County Seat 7-A hopefuls speak up

Tammy Davis, Kevin Raper

Posted 7/11/18

Leading up to the early voting period for the Aug. 2 election, the candidates in the only contested Bradley County Commission race – District 7, Seat A – on the ballot agreed to respond to a questionnaire from the Cleveland Daily Banner covering several areas of interest to voters.

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County Seat 7-A hopefuls speak up

Tammy Davis, Kevin Raper


Leading up to the early voting period for the Aug. 2 election, the candidates in the only contested Bradley County Commission race – District 7, Seat A – on the ballot agreed to respond to a questionnaire from the Cleveland Daily Banner covering several areas of interest to voters.

The following comments are directly from Tammy Davis and Kevin Raper with limited Associated Press-style editing for spelling and grammar, as well as for clarity. Davis is the Democratic candidate and Raper is the Republican candidate.

The candidates’ responses have been listed in alphabetical order.

What will you do to help rebuild a good working relationship with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office?

Davis: The sheriff’s office is a vital part of the community and without them, we couldn’t function. If we as commissioners want what is best for the county, then we have to work together to keep families safe. Open communications with the sheriff’s office about their issues and needs, and putting away any personal opinions, is what we should be doing to serve the public. These men and women are called to the most challenging situations and need our support, though mistakes are sometimes made, I know if called, they will put their own safety at risk to help.

Raper: To my knowledge the relationship between the Bradley County Commission and the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is not in a state of disrepair. For the most part, I feel the relationship among the two government entities is civil and they work well together. My personal thought is the relationship is more about reshaping than rebuilding for the future.

If I am elected, I plan on meeting with each department head in all areas of Bradley County government to discuss short- and long-term goals, concerns, needs, and desires for better efficiency. I will be cognizant of this when making decisions.

Would you support the commission chairman working to develop guidelines for commissioners to follow in making their district reports, in terms of topics they should and should not address?

Davis: I support guidelines for reports but am not sure what topics should or shouldn’t be addressed. I understand we shouldn’t get bogged down with trivial issues, but we must make sure that what is reported are subjects that are important to the residents and that transparency is the goal. If we omit a consideration simply because we don’t like the possible outcome, then we’re doing a disservice to the community.

Raper: Whether Mr. (Chairman Louie) Alford or someone else is the next chairperson of the commission, I plan on having a good working relationship with whoever is chosen. If they have new ideas or differing guidelines for meetings to run more efficiently, then I am open to those suggestions for consideration.

When considering Bradley County’s infrastructure needs, what are your views on tax increases?

Davis: Planning is an important part of the commission’s function and we must look at long-term planning, not just next year, but five, 10 years in the future and budgeting is part of that. No one wants higher taxes but the projects we consider now will affect potential area growth. In order to entice new businesses we must have progressive infrastructure in place and strategies for new programs that will not only benefit the county but the industries considering expansion to our area; in short we either pay now, or pay later. By delaying, we face higher costs to repair or upgrade as well as major cuts to other programs that hurt our community such as education and safety.

Raper: The Bradley County Commission should develop a one- to five-year plan, 10-year plan, and a longer-term plan to address infrastructure needs. Additionally, all possible funding sources should be included in the plan. All districts have their own set of needs, and we should develop short- and long-term goals to better prepare for the future. Failure to plan is a plan for failure.

I have maintained during my campaign three points of criteria that must be met before any consideration of a tax increase. First, all means of generating revenues must be exhausted. Second, it should only be used as a last resort measure. Thirdly, if a tax increase is absolutely necessary, the amount should be reasonable.

What do you see as the capital needs of the Bradley County Schools system, such as new schools? How would you propose funding those capital needs?

Davis: We are so blessed to have such great teachers with support from the school board for our community to have a wide range of funding options. The Tennessee Education Lottery that has raised more than $4.5 billion since 2004, the newly awarded DREAM (Data-driven, Rigorous, Enriching, Advising, and Mentoring) grant that will prepare students for college and careers after graduation and various state grants that have enabled the building of the new schools across the county, but more is needed. Expanding broadband, mentoring programs, and offering entry level college classes to seniors, will encourage more students to further their education and be better prepared for the new technology jobs we hope to attract to the area.

Raper: The job of the Bradley County School Board, along with Director of Schools Dr. Linda Cash, is to prioritize their capital needs. The job of the Bradley County Commission is to be the funding body for the schools.

When the school system presents the need for a capital project, the commission should try to find monies to fund the request. Capital projects usually have a large price tag. We should attempt to find these funds without a property tax increase. A recent example is the Lake Forest Middle School project.

What projects do you believe will benefit from increased cooperation with the city of Cleveland?

Davis: Good relations with the city are essential to the success of all of Bradley County, so we must work to make that happen. Road projects, public safety, education and planning for attracting new industry are just a few of the concerns that we face on the commission and by working together with the city, we may be able to come up with new ideas and concepts to not only make that a success but also demonstrate to the residents that working together can and should be the way governing works.

Raper: The sky is the limit when Bradley County and [the city of] Cleveland work together with a spirit of cooperation. One example would be consolidating the building code inspectors into one location to benefit local citizens. Next, industry and small business would be better served if Cleveland City and Bradley County schools both utilized the PIE Center. Finally, the local governing bodies have recently worked together on the funding of the infrastructure of single-family homes near the city/county line. All citizens benefit when we explore endeavors to better our community cooperatively.

Do you have thoughts on what type of developments you’d like to see at Interstate 75 Exit 20?

Davis: We have an opportunity to make Exit 20 a way of promoting tourism and development for the community. A new convention center aligning with major hotel and restaurant chains has the potential of creating new jobs and expansion of future development on a large scale. We’re centrally located to make it easier for surrounding areas to hold their meetings and activities here and display our beautiful downtown area, rather than selecting larger nearby cities.

In closing, I want to thank all the residents in Bradley County for this opportunity, and to let them know I’ll do my best to represent them if elected.

Raper: A mixture of retail stores, hotels/motels, restaurants, entertainment, and small businesses would be what I would like to see developed at Exit 20. In addition, it would be outstanding to see many large industrial-type businesses locate at the Spring Branch Industrial Park.


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