The race for Anderson County Mayor is between Republican Terry Frank and Democrat Warren Gooch. (This vote will determine who replaces the Myron Iwanski, who’s serving as interim county mayor.)
[ ] What do you feel is Anderson County's biggest problem? And how do you plan to try to fix it?
[ ] What are your views on the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department?
[ ] What will your goals be if you’re elected?
These are some questions from earlier this year.
[ ] What compelled you to run for Anderson County Mayor?
[ ] What do you see as our number one weakness?
[ ] In addition to roads, schools, and law enforcement, what do you see as the essential services of the county? Parks and Recreation? Public Health? Some other item? What is dearest to you? Or, what do you have your eye on really looking at for possible savings?
[ ] What would be your first priority if you were elected?
[ ] Do you support the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) that was recently approved in Oak Ridge for retail and would you support similar TIFs in other parts of the county?
[ ] Describe one of the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your life, and how you worked (or are working) to overcome it.
[ ] Will you propose significant cuts in county government spending? If so, what specifically will you propose cutting and how much will these cuts save?
[ ] What’s your greatest weakness? And on the flip side, what's your best quality?
[ ] Name at least four or five books that have helped define your life. Or, if it’s not books that helped form your core, name what you read, or have read, that has helped prepare you to be mayor of Anderson County?
[ ] Make the case for why you should be elected.
What do you feel is Anderson County's biggest problem? And how do you plan to try to fix it?
Terry Frank, R: Our biggest problem is found in the challenges of our local economy. This problem revolves around policy weaknesses that affect the long-term well being of our county. Specifically, the budgetary policy of increasing debt and increasing taxation hinders our competiveness with surrounding counties, harming our ability to maintain and attract families who choose to live here and businesses who want to do business here. I plan to fix this with my positive, business-minded approach and a renewed dedication to prosperity. The common sense budget principles that moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas use to run our families are the same principles that make sense for government, too. Putting these principles to work is the first step to restoring confidence and trust, and beefing up our local economy.
Warren Gooch, D: Anderson County’s population only grew 5.3% between 2000 and 2010, and it is projected to grow less than 1% between 2012 and 2016. This is far below our neighboring counties and the state as a whole. At best, this trend results in the same number of taxpayers paying property taxes and little or no growth in sales tax collections. The creation of new jobs in the private sector is the quickest way to attract new residents and expand our tax base. Anderson County is a great place to live, raise a family, work and invest. As Mayor, I will oppose tax increases which damage our ability to attract new business investment and new residents. I will work closely with existing businesses to insure they have a skilled work force and support innovative approaches to spur retail development. Finally, I will aggressively support the DOE mission in Oak Ridge.
You’ve both said you’re opposed to higher taxes, so we want to know your views on the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department. Interim Mayor Myron Iwanski has said the sheriff’s budget is about double what it was 6 years ago and is already higher than comparable counties. Given that the Sheriff asked for a 20 percent increase in funding for this year, and has threatened going to court to fight for more funding both this year and in past years, what is your view on the Sheriff’s Department budget? And how do you plan on trying to manage this relationship/situation?
Terry Frank, R: Our greatest challenge is an economy that is failing to see revenue growth on par with surrounding counties, or the state. Limited resources mean departmental fights over funding, or tax increases as the same taxpayers are asked to cover greater costs of government. This isn’t sustainable long term, and in fact, we’ve witnessed detrimental short-term costs. While I am no expert on Sheriff’s department operations, I remain acutely aware of the increasing mandates that exceed their duties of traditional law enforcement, such as transport for mental health. Increased costs and demands may require requests for state legislative reform that may not see immediate local relief, but can remedy long term problems. Regarding management of relationships, whether it’s the Sheriff’s Department or any other department, constant communication throughout the year is the only way to prevent so-called turf wars or budgetary crises. Long term planning and understanding of the long-term goals and requirements of each department is a must. For instance, upon the approval of the jail expansion, it was immediately known that funding of operational costs was not addressed. A resolution to this challenge should have been found long before we arrived at the annual budget season, and the current solution is only partial in that part of the funding solution is based on hopes for, not actual, future savings. Building a stronger and safer Anderson County is going to require regular communication of goals.
Warren Gooch, D: Any budget process is, by its very nature, time consuming and often contentious, regardless of whether it involves a household, business, or government. This is particularly true in a time of economic uncertainty, when government officials have good faith disagreements about budget priorities. Anderson County faces challenges like all local governments in funding essential services, and at the same time, identifying every possible saving and efficiency. The budget negotiations this year presented an additional challenge due to the necessity of staffing a new addition to the county jail. The Mayor, Sheriff, and County Commission worked very hard to find common ground in the adoption of the 2012-2013 budget without a tax increase. I applaud them for their hard work and for the end result; because raising taxes was simply not an option. I have promised that I am against raising taxes, and I reaffirm that pledge today.
As Mayor, I will emphasize communication and the exchange of ideas with the County Commission, Sheriff, and the Anderson County School System. I have always been able to work with people from divergent backgrounds, conflicting ideas, and competing affiliations to accomplish common goals. As Anderson County Mayor, I will do the same thing. I am firmly convinced that with the right leadership, and with a Mayor who is committed to being open and accessible, we can avoid political standoffs and problems before they occur.
Race for Oak Ridge City Council: Describe one of the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your life, and how you worked (or are working) to overcome it.
What will your goals be if you’re elected?
Terry Frank, R: I have many goals if the good people of Anderson County elect me, but my first priority is the economy, and I plan to set in motion policies to renew our economy. By controlling spending and taxation, loosening regulatory burdens, and getting money back into the hands of the people who earned it, we can better maintain and attract families who want to live here, and businesses who want to do business here. Part of that goal will mean increasing efficiency and reprioritizing expenditures to make government more hassle-free and taxpayer friendly. By controlling future debt and paying down current debt, we’ll be in a position to eliminate some taxes and fees. From an accountability perspective, my goals are to make our government more transparent by placing as many records as possible online. Such openness will grow trust, goodwill and optimism as we work together to increase our prosperity.
Warren Gooch, D: As Mayor, my goals during this two year term will be to actively seek new business investment and retail development and aggressively support the DOE mission in Oak Ridge, including funding for the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex.
I will be a strong advocate for our public schools. I will work closely with our three outstanding school systems and Roane State Community College to increase high school graduation rates, increase the number of our graduates seeking post-secondary education, and to reaffirm our commitment to the development of a highly skilled workforce.
I will oppose: (1) new taxes; (2) any attempt to privatize emergency medical services; (3) any attempt to consolidate volunteer fire departments; and (4) any attempt to abolish Juvenile Court.
What compelled you to run for Anderson County Mayor?
Terry Frank, R: Many factors compelled me to run, but ranking at the top is my belief we need a hard working, business-minded, service-oriented person who understands tax dollars aren’t free, that they come from the pockets of people in Anderson County. County government has seen reserve funds dwindle to the point of being placed on a negative watch by Moody’s, debt increased over 70 percent in just one year, and we just experienced a massive tax increase with a potential for future increases. We need efficient management of our dollars. We must protect central services people expect from their government, like schools, crime prevention, and roads, without returning to the same taxpayers for greater contributions to the tax coffers. We have many assets in our county, and we need someone trustworthy who can positively promote our assets as well as work to confidently grow our economy by using proven free market principles.
Warren Gooch, D: I have decided to run for Anderson County Mayor because I believe this is a critical time for our county. We face the challenges of providing adequate funding for essential services including our schools, law enforcement, public safety, and infrastructure improvement; attracting new residents and capital investment which will expand our tax base; and finally, identifying every possible saving and efficiency in county government to make it more cost effective and responsive. President John Kennedy’s words ring as true today as they did 50 years ago when he said: “One person can make a difference, and every person should try.” I believe I can make a positive difference for Anderson County by being a hard working leader and consensus builder who addresses these challenges and moves our county forward. That is why I have decided to run for County Mayor.
What do you see as our number one weakness?
Terry Frank, R: “As far as our county and our people, I don’t see any major weakness. I do see policy weakness, policy challenges and policy failures that affect the long-term well being of our county. One of those weaknesses is a weak budget policy. The budgetary policy of increasing debt and increasing taxation hinders our competiveness with surrounding counties, harming our ability to maintain and attract families who choose to live here and businesses who want to do business here. I plan to fix this with my positive, business-minded approach and the renewed dedication to prosperity that I pledge to Anderson County. The common sense budget principles that moms, dads, grandmas, and grandpas use to run our families are the same principles that make sense for government, too. Putting these principles to work is the first step to restoring confidence and trust, and beefing up our local economy.”
Warren Gooch, D: “One issue which will certainly become ‘a major weakness,’ if unaddressed, is low population growth. Our population only grew 5.3 percent between 2000 and 2010. According to the latest state projections, our growth between 2011 and 2015 will be less than 1 percent, which is far below our neighboring counties and the state as a whole. At best, this demographic trend results in the same number of taxpayers paying property taxes and flat sales tax collections. Job creation in the private sector is the quickest way to attract new residents and expand our tax base. As County Mayor, I will constantly promote Anderson County as a great place to live, raise a family, work, and invest. The County should also develop a new industrial park; work closely with our cities on innovative approaches to spur retail development; and aggressively support existing businesses and federal funding for the DOE mission in Oak Ridge.”
In addition to roads, schools, and law enforcement, what do you see as the essential services of the county? Parks and Recreation? Public Health? Some other item? What is dearest to you? Or, what do you have your eye on really looking at for possible savings?
Terry Frank, R: I want to refocus the question from what else can government do, to how can we free up people and business; how can we get more of their hard earned dollars back in their hands. From this new perspective, we think about revenue in terms of growth instead of squeezing the same taxpayers and harming our long-term competitiveness. The formula of spending more than we take in is detrimental in the long run---it leads to more tax increases or severe cuts, or both. We can avoid unnecessary cuts by taking the first step: controlling spending. We need economic growth to increase faster than spending, and when it does, we can build a rainy day fund, pay off debt early, pay up front for capital projects rather than borrowing, and yes, we can even lower property taxes. Increased economic prosperity will simplify government budgeting—affording us greater leeway.
Warren Gooch, D: In eight short years (2020), at least 56% of all jobs in Tennessee will require a career certificate for specific skills or a college degree. In order to maintain Anderson County’s quality of life and our economic competitiveness, we must have more of our high school graduates attending technology centers or college. We must also increase the number of graduates who are college-ready and thereby avoid the need and cost of remedial courses. This is critical because a majority of Tennessee students never complete their remedial work. It is essential that we have a highly skilled work force. Conversely, I am concerned about the cost of medical care for prisoners in the county jail which is a legal obligation imposed upon the county by Tennessee law. I will explore every alternative to provide these services in the most cost effective manner to reduce this expense for taxpayers.
What would be your first priority if you were elected?
Terry Frank, R: My first and number one priority is the taxpayer. From an economic policy perspective, my first priority is to set in motion policies to renew our economy. By controlling spending and taxation, loosening regulatory burdens, and getting money back into the hands of the people who earned it, we can better maintain and attract families who want to live here, and businesses who want to do business here. Part of that priority will mean increasing efficiency and reprioritizing expenditures to make government more hassle-free and taxpayer friendly. By controlling debt and paying down current debt, we’ll be in a position to eliminate some taxes and fees. From an accountability perspective, my first priority is to make county government more transparent by placing as many records as possible online. The technology exists to do so, and such openness will grow trust, goodwill, and optimism as we work to increase our prosperity.
Warren Gooch, D: I will conduct a top to bottom review of all county departments for which the County Mayor is responsible. This will identify potential cost savings and insure that all services are being provided efficiently.
Do you support the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) that was recently approved in Oak Ridge for retail and would you support similar TIFs in other parts of the county?
Terry Frank, R: As County Mayor, my job outline has specific county responsibilities. City decisions aren’t under the County Mayor’s umbrella. I would not interfere in the decisions of our city governments. Each city has its own elected bodies that make their own decisions and are answerable to their city citizens. Regarding Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for retail for the County, I have no plans to move in that direction. Complicated tax structures or distortions in the tax laws yield mixed results and possibly risk taxpayer distrust. My goal continues to be to get debt and taxation under control, reduce the cost of living and doing business in Anderson County, work towards tax neutrality, and work towards a more hassle-free government. I believe this is the key to more retail. Without increasing the number of families who live and/or work here, attracting retail will remain a challenge instead of a natural market occurrence.
Warren Gooch, D: Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a popular, fair, and effective economic development incentive with businesses and governments because it is easily understood, administered, and all taxes are paid. TIF is one of several tools which could be used by Anderson County in its economic development program. However, TIF is no “silver bullet” which automatically generates demand for retail businesses or guarantees their success. At the end of the day, a growing population is necessary to create consumer demand for retail services, and this demand attracts business investment. I can support the use of TIF for projects which are validated by conservative financial projections and sound business plans. This will insure that any infrastructure improvements which are necessary for the business relocation or expansion are a good investment of tax revenue.
Describe one of the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your life, and how you worked (or are working) to overcome it.
Terry Frank, R: “I have faced numerous challenges just as the readers have. We are all human – and some of our challenges are fun and may require work, meeting friends or experiencing reward. Some require time management – like the challenge I’m experiencing now of trying to work at my business, be a good mom, wife, and friend, while trying to campaign for a position where I can serve the good people of this county. But some challenges have involved suffering, pain, tears and grief – and during such times we may find our first step out of bed as our biggest daily challenge. Whether it was dealing with life and death issues of a family member, trying to raise good sons, or embarking upon new adventures, I have found that my God carries me through… maybe not how I think things will turn out – but He has never failed me.”
Warren Gooch, D: “My challenge was dealing with the declining health of my parents. I was an only child, and my parents lived in White Pine, Tennessee, where I was born and raised. When my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I was a young husband, father and lawyer. Mother endured 14 difficult years of medical treatment and illness. When she passed away on Easter Sunday in 1996, Judy, Ryan, Matt, and I had been living in Oak Ridge for three years, and our lives and my schedule were even busier. My father lived for another ten years, and while his health continually declined, he was able to live alone and to maintain his independence. I struggled mightily to balance my obligations as a son, husband, father, and attorney, but I was able to do so because God blessed me with the unwavering love and support of family, friends and law partners.”
Will you propose significant cuts in county government spending? If so, what specifically will you propose cutting and how much will these cuts save?
Terry Frank, R: Our biggest opportunity for savings, ultimately, will be to hold the rate of increases in spending below the rate in revenue growth and economic growth in the county. Stabilizing the rate of increases will allow for lower property taxes – and greater economic competitiveness – in the future without drastic cuts. Some will view lowering projected spending as significant cuts; however, not spending more than you take in will benefit us all in the long run. Several more limited opportunities for increased savings will come through increased efficiencies and standardizing policies.
Warren Gooch, D: As I previously stated in the January 19th edition of The Observer, my first priority upon taking office will be to conduct a top to bottom review of all departments for which the Mayor is responsible. Upon completion of that review, I will make recommendations to the County Commission regarding budget adjustments which I believe are appropriate and will result in cost savings for the taxpayers of Anderson County.
What’s your greatest weakness? And on the flip side, what's your best quality?
Terry Frank, R: “I’m human, so I have many weaknesses! I can only hazard a guess at my greatest weakness and to guess, I’d say maybe I don’t take risks often enough – that I tend to operate by playing it safely, so to speak. I played competitive team sports in my past, but I never signed up to learn how to snow ski. The way I sized it up was that the risk of falling was too great! As to my greatest strength, I guess it’s similar my greatest weakness – probably best judged by those around me. But if I must name one myself, I’d guess that it is my genuine regard for the value of each and every person, his or her experiences, his sufferings, or her joys. I truly enjoy helping others see their own personal worth and potential, and I think that’s my best strength.”
Warren Gooch, D: “I admit that I have more than one personal weakness, but certainly impatience is one of them. On the other hand, one of my best attributes, and I believe it to be a strength, is pursuing excellence in my endeavors and those of others who seek my advice and counsel. In my opinion, this is absolutely critical because the acceptance of status quo is a steady march to decline. I am perfectly comfortable with leaving it to the good judgment of the voters to decide whether my strengths outweigh my weaknesses.”
Name at least four or five books that have helped define your life. Or, if it’s not books that helped form your core, name what you read, or have read, that has helped prepare you to be mayor of Anderson County?
Terry Frank, R: “Outside of the Bible that’s in its own category not lumped in with my other reading materials, books that have inspired me or changed my perspective are: “The Law: The Classic Blueprint for a Just Society” by Frederic Bastiat. I love this one so much, many years ago I purchased 150 copies to give away…and did! Richard Wurmbrand’s “Tortured for Christ” was eye-opener for me—not just for what Wurmbrand suffered, but my shock at the cruelties of the state. “Freudian Fraud: The Malignant Effect of Freud’s Theory on American Thought and Culture” by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D—this book gave me insight into much failed social policy, i.e., it is based on the Freudian fraud that man isn’t really responsible for his own actions. “Alexander Hamilton: A Life” by Willard Sterne Randall and“Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley are two others that have had lasting impacts on me.”
Warren Gooch, D: “The book that continues to define and mold my core values and principles is the Bible, particularly Matthew Chapter 25 and Romans Chapter 13. Other books which I have found to be very inspiring, uplifting, or insightful are Archibald Cox: Conscience of a Nation, by Ken Gormley; The World is Flat, by Thomas Freedman; The Greatest Generation, by Tom Brokaw; and American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, by Jon Meacham. Since I firmly believe that preparation for office does not stop upon election, I will continue my current practice of a daily devotion and reading books from the national best sellers list.”
Make the case for why you should be elected.
Terry Frank, R: A big thank you to Stan and Danah for their hard work, and for providing weekly space to discuss the issues! I love Anderson County, and want to protect our long-term wellbeing as well as increase our prosperity. We need a hard-working, business-minded, service-oriented person who understands tax dollars aren’t free, that they come from the pockets of people in Anderson County. We need efficient management of our dollars, and we must protect essential services people expect from their government without returning to the same taxpayers for greater contributions to the tax coffers. We also need sunlight in government. More openness. More transparency. More accountability. We have many assets in our county, and we need someone trustworthy who can positively promote our assets as well as work to confidently grow our economy by using proven free market principles. I believe I am that person, I would genuinely appreciate your vote.
Warren Gooch, D: I have a long history of working with people from differing viewpoints to achieve consensus and reach common goals. As Anderson County mayor I will work every day to keep Anderson County a great place to live, work and raise a family.
I have the leadership skills developed from serving in the Air Force, the business experience from managing a law firm and insights gained from actively supporting my church, public schools, civic organizations, and raising my family.
I will actively seek new business investment and retail development throughout the county. I will work closely with our law enforcement agencies to keep our families safe in their homes. I will aggressively support the DOE mission in Oak Ridge.
Let me be clear. I will oppose: all new tax taxes, privatizing emergency medical services, consolidating volunteer fire departments or abolishing Juvenile Court.
I respectfully ask for your vote on August 2.