What are you meant to be doing — Finding your calling

Published 9:20 am Monday, November 6, 2017

Since first being elected as County Mayor on May 4, 2010 and taking office on September 1, 2010, I have learned a great deal about our beautiful county and its wonderful citizens. Many people have asked me, “Why in the world did you want to run for the Office of Mayor back in 2010 and again in 2014?” The answer is simple. I had a calling for I have always had a “servant leader’s heart,” have wanted to help the people and have wanted to do everything possible to make our home (Carter County) a better place for us to live, work, play and raise our families.
Like any new job, there is a learning curve and, in the corporate world, customarily you receive formal and on-the-job training irrespective of your combined years of work experience or educational background. However, a newly elected official doesn’t normally receive training from an outgoing official. There are no “HOW TO” manuals and most surprisingly the only requirements for one to run for the Office of County Mayor are one-year residency and being 25 years of age or older. It is simply unbelievable that no work experience or minimum level of education is required for one to hold the position of the County’s Chief Executive Officer. For the record, I have over 25 years of Corporate Management experience, have a Bachelor of Science Degree from ETSU and currently designated as a Certified Public Administrator by the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Public Service. In addition, I have completed hundreds of continuing education hours across many different disciplines. Positions held include: Engineering Manager, Director of Quality Assurance, Environmental Compliance Manger and Front-Line Production Supervisor. Through the years I have managed the day to day work activities of countless exempt & non-exempt salaried as well as hourly employees. It is important to note that when I took office, I received no training. I asked my predecessor for some time during the month of August prior to take taking office, however, the request was denied. He did however make certain that the administrative assistant was available to place the door key in my hand that first day on the job. Needless to say, having come from the corporate world my learning curve was steep on the government and political side. My many successes and perseverance to date are directly attributable to my education, corporate work experience, the values that my wonderful parents taught me and the countless prayer lists that had my name on them. Had it not been for that, I would have failed miserably and would have run for the hills at the first signs of adversity. As you all know, my record clearly reflects that I have maintained a firm stance and always stood up for those things that are morally and ethically right. Those things that are in the best interests of most of our citizens. I never wavered even during those times when the right things are not popular or politically correct in the eyes of the select and controlling few.
My first few years in office were challenging as I, admittedly, was so eager to make changes for the better that I was like a “bull in a china shop” and was told by the then Commission to “please slow down” as changes were happening too fast for the Commission to keep up with me. This was difficult for me to understand in that I saw Carter County as a terminally ill patient in need of urgent care. For you see, in the corporate/manufacturing world that I had left to become Mayor, time is money and processes must be changed quickly when they are found to be deficient. There it is an absolute must that all projects be completed in record time. Government on the other hand has a different timeline (Weeks, Months, Years vs. Minutes, Hours, Days) not only at the local level but also at the State and Federal level. Many of my recommendations to the Commission were met initially with resistance but many ultimately were blessed and implemented by the current Commission for which I am grateful as the outcomes have truly benefited our county and citizens.
It has taken 6.5 years to arrive at a place in my career as Mayor where I finally feel all those past lessons and missed opportunities have allowed me to achieve a string of wonderful successes over the past six months. Since January 2017, the county has won four competitive grants that originated in my office and now there are many more, totaling over $600,000, in the pipeline. An announcement about the probable award of two more is to come within the next few weeks. I am very pleased that the county under my leadership has its first ever Tennessee Certified Economic Developer and the county is now part of a Regional Economic Development Partnership. I am delighted that the county has a new Corporate Attraction Marketing Promotion Video, Tourism Asset Inventory and Plan. I am extremely optimistic about Carter County’s future.
I am concerned, however, that I have received several phone calls over the past few weeks in which citizens have contacted me advising that some folks (who have indicated that they will be running for Mayor in the 2018 election and their supporters) have shared with them that I will not be running again. These people are desperately trying to convince everyone that “I have had all I can take” or that “I am running for State Representative.” I am always amazed at how politics work and the intentional spread by other candidates and their supporters of misinformation to try to gain the upper hand. This is the same type tactics we saw used in the 2014 election when you were told that I was going to shut down our county high schools; totally ridiculous. I would like to formally share with you, the citizens of Carter County that I would be honored to continue to serve as your Mayor for the 2018-2022 term and to assure everyone that my name will be on the election ballots for the Primary in May 2018 and General Election in August 2018.
My record speaks for itself. My focus has been and will continue to be helping make Carter County a better place for our citizens. Carter County citizens deserve some new good paying jobs. That will be my primary focus over the next five years. It is a must that we reverse our population decline, improve our ranking from Tier 4, bring more jobs to the county and improve our household incomes. It is my greatest wish that the County Commission through sound fiscal management practices reduce property taxes. Also, it is imperative that we invest in our county. We desperately need to invest in land/inventory, in a new industrial park, in the new Watauga River Development District, in Roan Mountain and in our numerous other communities, in our citizens and especially in our children who are our future. We must actively market this area to attract more people to our County through Tourism and relocations (both business and families), etc…
As I shared with you last week, my last Mayor’s Desk Article will be in the Sunday, November 12, 2017 publication of the Elizabethton Star because the paper will discontinue all articles from elected officials on November 17. During next week’s article, I will share with you my progress since 2010 and will share with you my plans for the 2018-2022 term when re-elected as your County Mayor.
I would like to remind you that I will be bringing the new Corporate Attraction Marketing Support video (www.cartercountyecd.com ) to each of the Districts to present to you, personally, during a series of Town Hall Meetings. I will also be providing you with a progress report on my Office of Economic and Community Development. I am looking forward to meeting with you, answering any questions you may have and hearing your ideas and suggestions. Thanks for your continued support as working together we have and will continue to make great things happen in Carter County!
Below are the dates and locations for the various meetings.
(All meetings are scheduled to start at 6 p.m.)
District 1 – Tuesday 11/7 – Unaka High School
District 2 – Thursday 11/9 – Roan Mountain Cloudland High School
District 3 – Tuesday 11/21 – Watauga Town Hall
District 4 – Tuesday 11/28 – Carter County Courthouse
District 5 – Thursday 11/30 – Milligan College
District 6 – Tuesday 12/5 – Little Milligan Elementary School
District 6 – Tuesday 12/12 – Hampton High School
District 7 – Thursday 12/7 – Happy Valley High School
District 8 – Thursday 12/14 – Elizabethton High School
For the latest updates and breaking news announcements from my office, please see the County Home Page Latest News section on the internet at www.cartercountytn.gov . Great things are happening in Carter County.
Please feel free to contact me at mayor@cartercountytn.gov or by phone at 423-542-1801 if you have any questions or if I can be of assistance to you. My office is located at 801 East Elk Avenue, Suite 201 located in the County Courthouse in Elizabethton. I have an open-door policy and everyone is always welcome.

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