Commission to fill seats with 2 of 12 applicants
Published 2:20 pm Saturday, May 16, 2015
When the Carter County Commission meets Monday, the group will select two new members to join its ranks.
One seat in the 1st District and one seat in the 3rd District are up for grabs. Former Commissioner Jerry Proffitt, who represented the 1st District, resigned his seat in March after moving out of the district. Former Commissioner Beth Depew, who represented the 3rd, resigned that same month, citing a new career opportunity and work obligations as her reasons for leaving the post.
When a vacancy occurs during a term, the remaining commissioners elect a replacement from a pool of qualified applicants.
Four applicants filed paperwork seeking the 1st District seat, and eight turned in applications for the 3rd District slot.
Those applying for the 1st District seat are Robert Vann Acuff, William D. Birchfield, Christopher A. Schuettler and Elbert Eugene Stevenson.
Applicants for the open 3rd District seat are Joni Perkins Cannon, Gordon Lynn Carroll, Scotty Preston Hall, Kenneth Ray Harrison, Bradley N. Johnson, Billy Wade Peters, Robert Joe Robbins and Debra Jorita Sams.
After receiving copies of the application packets, the Elizabethton Star checked with the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office to see whether there were any listed criminal convictions for any of the applicants. Only one applicant showed criminal convictions in Carter County — Hall, who was convicted of driving under the influence in 2000 and again of the same offense in 2008.
Below is some of the information the candidates provided in their application packets:
t Robert Vann Acuff, 126 Willshire Drive, Elizabethton. Acuff has lived in Carter County for six months, but he lived in Washington County for 23 years. He is employed in the Department of Surgery at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine.
Under qualifications, Acuff lists previous experience serving on the Johnson City Planning Commission.
“As a native Tennesseean — eighth generation — I love my state and have invested time in serving to make it a better place to live, work and recreate,” Acuff said. When his work brought him back to East Tennessee, he and his wife considered living in Washington or Sullivan county, but ultimately they decided to buy a home in Carter County. “As we considered our purchase, we also appreciated the forward-looking leadership of the vounty versus the tax-and-spend attitude observed in surrounding counties/municipalities.”
t William D. Birchfield, 1739 Highway 91, Elizabethton. Birchfield has lived in Carter County for 60 years and works in the construction industry. He is a military veteran.
Under qualifications, Birchfield lists previous experience serving on the Carter County Board of Zoning and Appeals and the Carter County Parks and Recreation Committee and experience with owning and running a small business.
“Every individual in the county has an obligation to put something back into the community, whether it’s your dollars, the work you do or the talent you make available,” Birchfield said. “Things will not change unless we get involved. If we stand back, we will have no effect. We either accept what’s going on, or we make the decision to work together.”
“I choose to be involved in making Carter County a strong and prosperous community to live and work in,” he said. “Given the opportunity, I plan to provide a positive leadership to the citizens of our county.”
t Christopher Alan Schuettler, 376 Peters Hollow Road, Elizabethton. Schuettler has lived in Carter County for 40 years and is the Carter County Director of Planning and Zoning. He is a military veteran.
Under qualifications, Schuettler lists previous experience working with the Carter County Parks and Recreation Committee and Regional Solid Waste Commission and more than 20 years of serving in county government.
In the section of the application where he was asked to state why he is interested in serving on the Commission, Schuettler said, “To bring good, common sense to our county governing body, with attention to the people of Carter County and 1st District.”
t Elbert Eugene Stevenson, 251 Estep Hollow Road, Elizabethton. Stevenson has lived in Carter County for one year and seven months and works as a deputy at the Carter County Sheriff’s Department.
Under qualifications, Stevenson lists previous service on the Minneola (Fla.) City Council.
“I wish to be a part of the smart development and protection of Carter County resources and its citizens,” Stevenson said.
t Joni Perkins Cannon, 367 Sinking Creek Road, Johnson City. Cannon has lived in Carter County for 24 years and is retired from East Tennessee State University’s Office of Government Relations.
Under qualifications, Cannon lists her experience working with the local government agencies through her former position at ETSU as well as serving on various boards and committees at her church and within the community.
“I feel strongly that Carter County has entered a new era of leadership that will take our beautiful county into a bright future,” Cannon said, adding both her and her husband have strong family ties in the community. “These ties to carter County’s past are strong but it is the future that offers the most challenge. My grandchildren are growing up and going to school here — their future as citizens of a strong, vibrant community that will offer them opportunities to continue to live here in these beautiful mountains is the driving force behind my desire to serve.”
t Gordon Lynn Carroll, 1313 Dosser Lane, Johnson City. Carroll has lived in Carter County for 52 years and works as a school bus driver for the Carter County school system.
Carroll left the qualifications portion of the application blank, but when asked to explain his interest in serving on the Commission, he said, “Serving the community, representing the district in a fair and just manner to help in anyway possible for betterment of county.”
t Scotty Preston Hall, 144 Hill Road, Johnson City. Hall has lived in Carter County for 35 years and is a correctional officer with the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
Hall left the qualifications portion of the application blank, but when asked to explain his interest in serving on the Commission, he said, “To help make good decisions for the better of Carter County and help bring in good paying jobs for the people of Carter County.”
t Kenneth Ray Harrison, 184 Byers Road, Elizabethton. Harrison has lived in Carter County since 1957 and is retired from Snap-On Tools. He is a military veteran.
Under qualifications, Harrison listed his experience with the U.S. Navy Weapons Department and his top secret security clearance.
When asked to explain his interest in serving on the Commission, he said, “Because I care about Carter County and the taxpayers’ dollars. I care about Carter County’s beautification. Something needs to be done about the trash in the community!”
t Bradley N. Johnson, 501 Dogwood Lane, Watauga. Johnson has lived in Carter County for 67 years, and though retired from law enforcement, he still works part time with the Carter County Sheriff’s Department. He is a military veteran.
Under qualifications, Johnson listed his experience serving on the Carter County Planning Commission, the Carter County Board of Zoning Appeals and the Civil Service Board as well as an “above average” knowledge of county government and budget through more than 30 years on various boards and committees.
When asked to explain his interest in serving on the Commission, he said, “To provide and apply my knowledge, experience and commitment to represent the citizens of the 3rd District and county. Strive to make sound judgment based on proven fact and to continue to maintain and improve quality of life services to our citizens.”
t Billy Peters, 270 Old Watauga Road, Elizabethton. Peters has lived in Carter County for 75 years and is retired.
Under qualifications, Peters listed his experience serving as a charter member and trustee for Perry Plant Community Action as well as experience working with a nonprofit public assistance agency helping the needy with food, housing and medical needs in the Cleveland, Ohio area.
“I am knowledgeable of Tennessee governing principles and in particular the betterment of Carter County,” Peters said. “I desire the best for the residents of Carter County and will endeavor to have the beset. I will work tirelessly to represent my district and the whole of Carter County, doing my best before God and my fellow citizens.”
t Robert Joe Robbins, 214 Wilson Ave., Elizabethton. Robbins has lived in Carter County for 13 years and is self-employed.
Under qualifications, Robbins listed his experience as president of the Biltmore/Keenburg Community Center, trustee at East Side Freewell and driver trainer for the Watauga Volunteer Fire Department. Robbins also listed “good common sense” as one of his qualifications.
When asked to explain his interest in serving on the Commission he said, “To better my community and county.
t Debra Jorita Sams, 1673 Bristol Highway, Elizabethton. Sams has lived in Carter County for 58 years and is a retired employee of Carter County.
Under qualifications, Sams listed her experience working in the offices of the Assessor of Property, the County Trustee and Chancery Court as well as experience serving as the secretary of the Equalization Board.
When asked to explain her interest in serving on the Commission, she said “By being retired from C.C. gov and think there is a need for someone who has lived in C.C. most of my life and knows area very well.”