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One-sided debates

Posted on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 11:55 am

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At Monday’s Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce’s candidate forum, not all of the races were fully represented.

Ann Hale, in District 14, Johnny Walker, in District 9 and Stancil Ford, District 13, each had the floor to themselves as their respective opponents did not attend.

District 14

Ann Hale, who has challenged Larry Carter for his District 14 County Commission seat, spoke at the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce Candidate forum Monday night. Carter did not attend.

“Most of my adult life has been spent here in Hamblen County working and raising my two daughters as a single mom,” Hale said. “My daughters were educated in the Hamblen County school system. Many years ago, I was afforded the opportunity to work with county executives to lay the foot work for a project, bringing, not only family entertainment but more importantly tourism dollars. This project continues to grow today and I’m very proud to have been a part of this.”

Hale said the county, like many others, has issues that need consideration as well as resolution.

“Our justice project must be resolved,” Hale said. “Studies are currently under way, and with consideration to all state and federal programs available for this project, they will soon be submitted. I will commit myself to self education regarding this matter and seeing it is not a problem swept under the rug.”

Hale said conservative use of taxpayer dollars is important and accountability is part of that process.

“When we use your tax dollars for any purpose the county legislative process, it is imperative that we have accountable for every dollar spent,” Hale said. “I am sure we can agree. However, many programs are necessary for the safety of our families. Having been a single mom for 11 years now, I understand the meaning of penny pinching and working as many hours as it takes to get the job done to pay the bills.”

Hale said she would support non-profit fire departments, 911 systems and rescue squads to protect our community.

Hale was asked what she saw as the county’s role in promoting quality of life, like recreation and the arts.

“I’m very proud to be a citizen of Hamblen County I’m very proud to call Morristown my home,” she said. “I think the role of county government only helps increase tourism dollars to this community.”

District 9

Johnny Walker, who is challenging Larry Baker for the District 9 County Commission seat, had the floor all to himself as Baker did not attend the forum.

Walker, a 47-year-old who works at Lear Corporation and farms cattle, told the crowd about his wife, his 13-year-old son and his plans if elected to the Hamblen County Commission.

Walker said public support encouraged him to run, citing wasteful spending and loss of jobs as their primary concerns,

“Several citizens in my district have asked me to consider a run,” he said.

Walker, a Morristown East and Tennessee College of Applied Technology graduate, explained he is a fiscal conservative, against giving county funding to help support non-profit organizations.

“It is impossible for our county to hand hundreds of thousands of dollars of our hard-earned taxpayer money to so-called non-profit foundations and expect to remain an attractive location for industrial growth,” Walker said. “Allowing money to be voted away, stolen or lost in accounting discrepancies can only be attributed to irresponsible oversight and will result in a tax increase.”

Walker said his conservative principles will help the Commission keep the burden off taxpayers.

Each contested district was asked a question drawn from a hat at random. Walker’s question drew a flutter of laughter from the crowd as it asked him about the topic he’d just finished addressing, the county’s support of non-profits.

“If the non-profit organization can’t support itself, why should it come to the County Commission begging for money?” the life-long Whitesburg resident asked.

District 13

Stancil Ford, County Commissioner for District 13, also had the floor to himself as opponent Michael Jarnagin (I) was not present Monday night.

“I‘ve had the opportunity to serve as chairman of the county commission for several years,” Ford said. “In the last six years, there has been no property tax increase and I think we’ll have the seventh year when we get done with the budget this year.”

Ford said that although the county has gone through some very tough economic times, they were able to provide this.

“I think keeping our taxes low, providing our services is what we’re all about,” he said. “Hamblen County is the only county in state of Tennessee with door to door garbage pick up.”

Ford was asked what he saw as the county’s role promoting tourism as an economic effort.

“I think anytime that we can promote tourism…it has great pay back,” Ford said. “It will come back to us four fold and we’re very selective in what we invest our dollars in, and I see a great opportunity for moving forward in economic development.”

-From Staff Reports