I am not running for re-election to county commission in 2006. I went back and forth on whether or not to run for the past several weeks. The decision was finally made last night.
Although many people encouraged another run and family and supporters were ready to hit the campaign trail, I made the decision not to run so that I can devote more time to my family and start using my law license to help people. I will continue to work on local accountability issues. However, I will simply do so in ways other than serving on county commission.
I will continue to use this blog as one way of getting the continuing message of accountability out.
In looking back and in looking forward to the remaining seven months of my term, I can say that I did what I said I would do and that I will continue to do so. I have never wavered, and I achieved my campaign goals. Among the many achievements were the following:
1. The state, instead of a local private auditor, now performs the yearly county audit. The savings to the county have been huge--$18,000/year. During the past 3 years, that has meant a total saving to the county of over $54,000 plus a better overall audit.
2. County Commission meetings are now taped and televised on Charter and Adelphia cable television. This was a big push on my part because of my belief in open government and knowing that sunshine acts as a "purifier" in the conduct of the public's business. Charter Cable Company donated video equipment, and Commissioner Phillips and I secured and donated audio equipment and microphones. My husband Ron provided materials free of charge and donated his own time to build a platform where the camera operator could sit. If you can't get to the commission meeting, you can watch it at home.
3. I made a proposal in November 2002 to have the county provide the financing for HVAC units (heating, venting, and air conditioning units for Lincoln and Meadowview Schools) so the schools could accept the low equipment bid and save $60,000. Although the schools chose not to let the county provide financing on the HVAC units at that time and thus gave up a possible savings of $60,000, the school system later accepted the idea of county financing on purchases such as buses and has saved money.
4. One of the most dramatic savings--to the tune of $1.1 million dollars for the county taxpayers-- occurred when I did not just blindly accept the state calculation of the Hamblen County certified (post-appraisal) tax rate in July 2005. All commissioners were sent packets from the County Mayor with the new state-certified tax rate along with local budgets that had been prepared by the Mayor's Finance Department using the proposed state tax rate.
I looked at the rate and the related budgets that had been prepared by the County Mayor and knew that something was wrong with both. The rate that the state had sent to Hamblen County, the rate that the Mayor's Finance Department had used to prepare a revised county budget in July 2005, was too high.
I called the Assessor and told him what I had found--that the state certified tax rate was incorrect and that the new tax rate should be about 11 cents less. After a phone call, the state provided a corrected, lower tax rate, and the resulting savings benefited the taxpayers of Hamblen County to the tune of about $1.1 million dollars.
Trust but verify has been my motto in connection with pushing for accountability for tax dollars. The importance of checking everything was proven big-time with my review of those state tax calculations. For me, doing that check was nothing special. I try to check as much county financial information as I possibly can because public service means working to save the taxpayers every dollar and being accountable in seeing that every dollar that is spent, is spent wisely.
I have served my constituents and tried to address their concerns--from having a tree removed that obstructed the view at a dangerous intersection, to saving the taxpayers $18,000/year on the county audit, to saving Hamblen County taxpayers over $1.1 million dollars by checking the state's certified tax rate.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to the voters of the 14th district who supported and elected me to the Hamblen County Commission in 2002. Serving the people of my district during the past four years has been a great honor, and I can never adequately express my appreciation for the trust that was placed in me.
At this time, however, I need to devote more time to helping my family, and I need to use my law degree to help others. I will stay involved, and I will continue to be a guardian for taxpayers. I will continue to attend meetings, and I will speak out about controlling taxes and controlling spending just as I did before I was elected.
I do not rule out the possibility of a future run for office or some other sort of involvement in government.
The taxpayers and everyday citizens of Hamblen County deserve an open and accountable government. That requires constant vigilance and a careful watch over county spending.
On a very personal note, I want to thank my family for their love and support. My husband Ron, my son Will, and my daughters Jenny and Katie have supported me through three years of law school, helped in my campaign for office in 2002, and have listened and provided input as I have come up with proposals to save the county money and to balance county budgets.
I have been blessed with very special parents, Bill and Helen Catron, who have been a source of strength and support in whatever I have attempted. My father passed away in May 2005, but his legacy of hard work, integrity, and honesty remain. I strive to live up to the example that he set. I also want to thank my sisters--Laura Catron and Lisa Catron Bible. I can not say enough about their encouragement and support and the many memories and experiences we have shared.
In future posts, I will explain the events that led up to entering law school and that resulted in my run for county commission in 2002.
In the meantime, I will continue to be the voice of fiscal conservatism and a watchdog for the citizens of Hamblen County.