Morristown City Council member Dennis Alvis says he decided to return to elective office last year because he likes helping people solve problems.
Alvis says that during the 34 years he worked for the Morristown Parks and Recreation Department, he developed strong relationships with city departments and Morristown Utility Systems, and gained a keen knowledge of how city government works.
Alvis was appointed to city council to fill the unexpired term of the late Claude Jinks, and by doing so, obliged himself to run for the Ward 4 seat in the May 7 election.
“The part I enjoy is not just cutting through the red tape, but directing people who to see when they have problems,” Alvis said. “If somebody calls saying they have a problem, I love directing them and sending them to the right place, rather than them not knowing where to go or who to talk to.”
Alvis says that under the leadership of Morristown City Administrator Tony Cox, he believes city government is on the right track both financially and in terms of making long-ignored improvements to infrastructure.
“I have worked under at least eight city administrators, and until he proves me wrong, he’s as competent as any I’ve ever worked under,” Alvis said. “He has a good working relationship with the employees. I’ve seen city administrators that you can’t even approach.”
Alvis says he’s particularly pleased with a project that hits close to home – upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant. Alvis and his wife of 37 years, Marlene, live in the Lakemoore subdivision, and have experienced their share of foul odors emanating from the plant.
He says he strongly supports allowing the city administrator broad latitude in running city business, which goes along way in removing politics from decisions that impact all Morristown residents. Other cities have a strong mayoral model but Alvis prefers the current system
“The way our charter is set up, the mayor is ceremonial,” he said. “He has one vote like everybody else.”
Along the same lines, Alvis says he applauds sending management of the city’s sanitary sewer system to the Morristown Utility Commission, and creating the Morristown Regional Airport Commission.
In both instances, Alvis said, decisions will be made by competent men and women who know more about the issues than city councilmembers.
With respect to the sewer system, Alvis says he believes a local board will be more responsive than a for-profit company that answers not to the people, but to city government.
Alvis says he’s personally complained to Veolia Water about odors in his neighborhood, only to be “passed down the food chain.”
“I think local people would be better to deal with on local problems,” said Alvis, who added he’s of the opinion that the MUC will do a better job for less money, which will benefit all Hamblen County residents.
The candidate says he recognizes that the garbage fee has become an issue in the election, but questions whether one proposed cure – scuttling the garbage fee – is worse than the $10 monthly fee.
Alvis says the money for garbage pickup has to come from somewhere, and if the garbage fee were abolished, city property taxes would have to be raised to compensate for the approximately $1.4 million in lost revenue.
Alvis, who was not on council when the garbage fee was implemented, says he believes the garbage fee is fair because everybody pays, not just people who own property, and property taxes fall disproportionately on business and industry.
The candidate says he does not consider himself of a part of the friction that’s characterized city council meetings over the past few years.
“I’m not on a side,” he said. “I’m going to vote my conscience and I’m going to keep a civil tongue and a level head, and although I may disagree with certain people, I respect their opinions.
“Their opinion is theirs and mine is mine, and I hope I never do or say anything that embarrasses the city. I don’t plan on it.”
Alvis served four years on the Hamblen County Commission. He retired from the parks department and resigned his commission seat to care for a son who was involved in a car crash.