On July 9, all seven candidates were asked the same five questions and asked to return their answers by the end of last week.
The Times News is running those responses in the order the were received: John Neubert-I; David Bailey-D; Dennis Deal-I; Danny Breeding-I; Jim Lee-R; Roy Spears-I; and Republican Kelly Markham, who lost his primary race in May but has qualified as an official write-in candidate. Previous candidate profiles can be found at www.timesnews.net
Jim Lee: Why are you running for Hawkins County mayor?
I have watched from the sidelines for some time now, and over the past 4 to 5 years, I have become very concerned about the direction Hawkins County is going. I, like most of the county are very unhappy with the county’s inability to work within a budget. Hawkins County needs a Mayor that is a good financial manager that is not afraid or easily intimidated. We have to change the way we do things. We have to stop spending money on programs that are not producing and live within our budget like most normal people do. We have to balance the budget and get out of debt so we can improve our education system, our roads and public safety. The people of Hawkins County expects and deserves this from the mayor’s office.
Please list your past employment experience, educational background, past political experience if any, and any other special skills that will serve you well as Hawkins County mayor.
I started working for county government and finished my career working for the State of Tennessee as a Tennessee State Trooper. I retired with over 32 years of service. I know waste when I see it. I am currently a Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency instructor and a Firearms Instructor. I attended Walter State Community College and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Law from Bethel University. I am also a small business owner and know how to complete a balanced budget. We simply have to stop spending more money than we have.
What are your top priorities, and/or the main goals you hope to achieve if elected?
If elected, I will work closely with the county commission to balance the county’s budget. This can be done with everyone working together. The ultimate goal is to give the best service to Hawkins County citizens for the least amount of taxes. There are places we can cut spending and still have the services that the people deserve. If elected, we will have a full time trained grant writer in the Mayor’s Office. We will obtain all the free grants the county needs and deserves. This will include business, home, educational and public safety grants from the federal and state government. We have got to get this spending under control and we have got to build up our rainy day fund.
What can the county mayor do to help attract more industry, jobs and commercial development to Hawkins County?
The county mayor should work very closely with the Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial Board. We have to start with marketing, recruiting businesses and making our schools better. We need to work with and promote our schools to produce an educated workforce. We also need to give incentives for people to want to live here in Hawkins County after they obtain employment. We have a lot of people that work here but live outside of the county. We need to engage residents and other business owners to help develop a vision for Hawkins County. Hawkins County already has some great assets which include natural beauty and historic downtowns. The county mayor needs to work closely with the city mayors in order to best serve all of Hawkins County. We cannot forget that our people in the cities also pay county taxes and should have input as well.
Why are you the best person for this job?
I am not a politician. I just want to make a difference in the county that I love. As I have stated before, I will work together with our county commission but I will not be intimidated by anyone or any groups of people. If elected, I will work for the whole county and not a select few. We are 1 county, not the “lower end” or the “upper end” Everyone will be treated equally. I have worked in government for over 32 years and I have witnessed more waste than most will ever see in a lifetime. This has got to stop. I believe in term limits for all political offices and if elected, I will serve no more than 2 terms. Being the Mayor of Hawkins County should be a full time job and not a position. The key to being a good leader is listening to the public. Ask yourself one question before you go vote, do you want a leader that is not afraid to stand up for you or do you want to keep things as they have been for years?