Meet the Candidates: Dr. Robert Acuff
Published 9:47 am Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Carter County voters in the First District will be selecting a new County Commissioner this election year to finish out an unexpired term of office created by the resignation of former Commissioner Jerry Proffitt.
Three candidates are vying for the seat, including Dr. Robert Acuff, a professor in the Department of Surgery at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine.
Acuff cites his desire to serve his community as the primary reason he is running for election to the county’s governing body.
“I’ve always been a big proponent of where ever I’m planted, I serve,” Acuff said, adding he previously served six years on the Johnson City Planning Commission when he and his wife lived in Washington County.
All elected officials should keep the desire to serve at the forefront, Acuff said.
“I think our focus should be on making people’s lives better,” he said.
On the local level, Acuff said he believes leaders should focus on educational opportunities and job recruitment.
“Certainly from the education stand point we have a lot of opportunity here,” Acuff said, touting the Career and Technical Education programs in the Carter County School System. “Not everybody needs a college education, but everybody needs a skill.”
On the job recruitment front, Acuff said he feels the county is not taking the wisest approach in abandoning its relationship with Carter County Tomorrow in favor of creating a new joint economic and community development board.
“It’s like driving your car down the highway and you get a flat tire so you pull off the side of the road and instead of fixing the tire you decide to buy a new car,” Acuff said. “Trashing what we already have and trying to reinvent it is just wasting time and money.”
To be successful in job recruitment, Acuff feels officials need to look beyond simply looking to recruit industries and also try to recruit tourism, retail, and medical jobs.
“We are not going to get the number of industrial jobs of a few decades ago, for a variety of reasons,” he said. “If you look at the areas around us, pretty much everyone has flat-lined on growth. No one is bringing in jobs in large numbers.”
Acuff said he would also like to see the county decrease employee turnover by creating a more equitable pay scale for its employees.
According to Acuff, a lack of teamwork and a desire to push personal agendas are the two biggest obstacles currently facing Carter County government.
“I think there are still hidden agendas,” he said. “Let’s get everything out in the open and move ahead.”
“If we don’t all work together we are not going to accomplish anything or move forward as a county,” Acuff added.