Senter seeking reelection to City Council
Editor’s Note: Kay Senter’s opponent in the upcoming election, Tom Wallace, declined an offer to interview for his own candidate profile story.
Morristown City Councilmember Kay Senter says she’s seeking a fifth term in office to continue a legacy of achievement and preserve the advances in city government made over the past three years.
“I’m running for office because I thoroughly enjoy serving the people of Morristown,” Senter said. “Working together, we have been successful and productive over the past years.
“I believe the people I work with will tell you I’m honest, dependable, prepared – a person of integrity. I want to ensure the progress that we’ve made under the leadership of City Administrator Tony Cox is continued.”
Senter says choosing Cox over the other city administrator candidates was a no-brainer, and he hasn’t disappointed during his three years at the helm of city government.
She pointed out the city administrator went from a negative fund balance to reserves of more than $10 million.
Senter said that working with councilmembers, Cox has developed a long-term plan for improving the sanitary sewer system, reconstructing the wastewater-treatment plant, and complying with federal stormwater regulations, as well as paving more than 20 miles of city streets, the candidate said.
An oversight ommittee has also been formed to ensure Morristown doesn’t fall behind in making future improvements to the sewer system.
Senter says she believes effective communication will go a long way towards resolving conflict among councilmembers. She pointed out that votes on issues are unanimous the overwhelming majority of the time, yet sometimes-bitter disagreements continue.
“I really don’t see hard-and-fast divisions among councilmembers,” she said. “What I don’t see is an ability to agree and disagree and move on to address the city business without dragging history along. City leaders should be able to agree and disagree and respect the opinions of others.
“I think we’re going to have to work on communication and chain of command,” she added. “I think we’re going to have to determine what our goals and objectives are as a council as how we’re going to accomplish them. This can’t be accomplished without equal respect and communication among all councilmembers. Communication and leadership begin with the mayor.”
Senter says she understands city residents’ opposition to the $10 monthly garbage fee, but added it’s an issue that councilmembers addressed last budget season.
Senter says council-members were faced with the dilemma of raising property taxes or raising the garbage fee.
“I’m not for raising property taxes to pay for garbage collection because the fee for this service is a fairer way of spreading the cost among the users,” she said.
Suggesting the money could be taken from the general fund runs counter to city council’s established policy of maintaining a healthy reserve fund. Also, she says, the Tennessee General Assembly is considering legislation to require municipalities to make the garbage fund a self-supporting utility, and that’s what Morristown is already doing.
Senter opined that shifting operational responsibility for the sanitary sewer system to Morristown Utility Systems makes sense to her.
“At the city’s request, MUS has taken control of the lift stations for the sewer system,” she said.
This coordination of the responsibilities for the sewer could turn out to be the first step in the overall assumption of the responsibilities of the sewer system by MUS.
“I think it’s a logical step,” she added. “MUS has the equipment and knowledgeable employees who already work on the sewer lines, which are generally in close proximity to the sewer. Of course, the final decision to move all responsibilities of the sewer to MUS will be a council decision.”
Senter is a retired English teacher who taught at Morristown-Hamblen High School East for 38 years.
She was married to the late Jim Senter. They had one son, Jimmy, who lives in Knoxville with his wife, Brooke, who have two children.
She is the daughter of the late Dr. John Kinser and his long-time wife, the late Betty Kinser.
Senter says she has risen to the top of her field in both her professional and public service life.
She was named president of the Tennessee Municipal League while serving on council.
She has also served on the board of the TML Bond Fund and TML Risk Management pool. Senter was named East High and Hamblen County teacher of the year and was among six of finalists for Tennessee Teacher of the Year. Senter continues to serve on the Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System board. She was named First Lady of Morristown and was inducted in the Hurricane and Hamblen Women’s halls of fame.