With 20 years of business experience in sales and marketing, I understand the importance of budgeting to not allowing our expenses to outpace our revenue, organization to promote a complete working environment, and marketing to represent our town in a manner that benefits us with businesses and other entities that can promote the long-term economic stability of our town. As a cadet at West Point, I learned leadership skills from the best military leaders in our country's history, and I utilize many of those skills today. I have leadership training in conflict management to recognize conflict styles of others and to take steps towards mediation.
Prior to serving as alderman, I attended the Board of Mayor & Aldermen meetings for six years learning how our town government operates. Since being elected to the Board two years ago, I have researched planning, budgeting, and design and have learned how to utilize all for the long-term betterment of our town.
The top two issues are growth/development and budgeting. We are at a critical juncture in our town's growth. Some incomplete areas in our ordinance have put us in reactive mode to developers and allowed developments that I do not believe are in our town's best interest. I plan to review and update our ordinances and guidelines and make common sense decisions on developments to reflect Arlington's character.
Secondly, due to our expenditures outpacing our revenue, we recently had to raise property taxes in order to fund additional fire personnel. We need a more in-depth budget system to show where we are spending money and how our current budget decisions affect the future of our town. I believe proper fiscal planning promotes the economic health and welfare of our town. Therefore, I plan to propose a program-based budget system so that we know what we are spending on each service the town provides, determine their cost-effectiveness, and compare alternative funding, if necessary.
Citizen involvement is an important facet of our community. It allows citizens to know what is going on with our local government and it allows our elected officials to understand the heartbeat of the citizens who we represent. Therefore, prior to being elected, I provided notes of the board meetings so that others would know what is happening in our town. As mayor, I plan to carry on this intention and propose to implement town hall meetings to allow open discussions between citizens and the Board. Citizens will be able to share concerns and ask questions in an informal setting while the Board will understand pertinent issues of the citizens.
Additionally, I propose a more community-interactive budget process in which we implement a budget hearing or workshop to allow community input for the priority of our overall budget. Armed with community input, we can confidently make budget decisions based on the overall direction of the town and plan future budget decisions accordingly.
As current Mayor, I feel I’m the most qualified candidate to continue to the work in our great town. We have achieved great success as a community. We have created a municipal school district from scratch & have built it into a top 5 district in TN. In 2014, we created our first Parks & Rec department which has improved the quality of our parks, have added new fields and facilities, rebuilt aging structures, and increased programs for all ages. We have expanded public safety with the approval of our 2nd fire station. We have worked hard as a community to be chosen as the site for the West TN Veterans Home, and I have traveled to Nashville many times to testify to seek approval for an ER in Arlington. Being mayor is about building relationships locally and statewide, and I feel I have those relationships. I am a former SCS School Board member, so I feel I possess the background, knowledge and understanding of the needs of our school system.
Some of the challenges facing us immediately are schools/parks and how to handle the growth. Our school system is top notch. With our industry in town, we need to build relationships with our businesses so the schools will know the needs of our workforce. This allows our schools to focus and offer programs that will benefit the businesses in town so our youth can hopefully make Arlington a place to continue to live and work after graduation. We need to make sure we offer youth programs that will help build interest and experience in programs that our schools offer. The challenge of a successful & attractive community is growth. Many people have moved here for what we are right now, others because of what they think we can or will be. Our philosophy is to build good infrastructure, expand our parks, offer great schools and enjoy a safe community. We are not recruiting commercial growth, but we have to embrace it......that’s the challenge.
Interactions and community involvement are key to our success. As Mayor, you have to make yourself available to talk with and listen to people at all times. I am very active and engaged in all parts of this town. Although social media is tough at times, I make sure to answer and respond to questions, clear up confusion, be transparent, and even post my cell number on there for people to contact me. As mayor, I have added committees such as Parks & Rec, Health & Safety, schools and others in order to seek citizen input. We have ensured that there are 6 citizens and 1 alderman on each committee. An elected official is only successful if he/she truly represents the will of the people, and communication is key.