Today is Thursday, August 17, 2017

2 squires have different views on bill’s chance

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District 20’s Annette Stafford, who serves as chair of the Education Committee of the Wilson County Commission, was very disappointed by the outcome of the private act to expand the Board of Education, while District 17’s Gary Keith called it “great.”

His feelings about the change in the bill at the General Assembly were just the opposite of Stafford’s.

“I just think it’s a sad day when we send representatives down there to represent us, and they aren’t strong enough to get what the citizens of Wilson County have requested,” Stafford said.

“I’m extremely disappointed.”

Stafford had strong words for the Wilson County legislative delegation, which consists of Republicans Rep. Mark Pody of Lebanon, Rep. Susan Lynn of Mt. Juliet and Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet.

“Let me stress that in my mind, this is not a Democrat or Republican thing. It’s simply about representing the constituents of Wilson County,” Stafford said. “They seem to have lost their bargaining or negotiating power at the state legislature.

“When we are elected to office, we promise to represent the people who put us into office. And I feel that all of our state legislators on all three of the private acts that we, as a county commission, asked them to support this year have failed us.”

The County Commission sent three private acts to the legislature in January. One was the BOE expansion bill that if the people approve the expansion on the Aug. 7 ballot this year would have given the county commission the right to appoint the two new members.

The second was to increase the hotel/motel tax by 1 percent to fund the construction of a proposed Expo Center at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center. It failed in committee.

The third private act was to allow a $1 surcharge to everyone who attends any event at the Ward Ag Center to also fund the building of the Expo Center. It never made it to the drafting of a bill. However, an AG opinion was requested and issued, and the status remains unclear.

“I feel like the citizens of Wilson County have lost all the way around,” Stafford said.

Keith, who was one of six commissioners to vote in favor an amendment at the Jan. 27 county commission meeting that would have allowed the people to elect the new BOE members, said he thinks the change “is great.

“I don’t see a problem with the putting it off until the 2016 election,” Keith said. “I wasn’t pushing for us to be the ones to appoint it. I think probably that’s a good thing.”

Keith said many times when the county commission is slated to appoint members to any position, commissioners get phone calls asking them to support one person over another.

“This certainly keeps politics out of it,” he said. “Anytime you put in the hands of the people it’ the right thing. I have no problem with putting it off at all, none whatsoever.”

Correspondent Amelia Morrison Hipps may be contacted at amhipps@downhomepolitics.com.

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Annette Stafford, Gary Keith, legislative delegation
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