Kelli Watkins

How do you feel about Lenoir City Redevelopment plans and citizens’ concerns about them?

Lenoir City’s redevelopment plan is the major reason that I decided to run for mayor. I am all for making Lenoir City an even better place to live but not at the expense of its citizens.

The plan that the mayor has been pushing so hard to pass will enable the city to take property from hard-working, tax-paying citizens. I will never agree with local government having the power to take one’s property simply because of vacant buildings, inadequate lot size, shape or “inappropriate land uses.”

Make no mistake. I feel if Mayor Brookshire is re-elected, this will happen. There are better ways to improve Lenoir City, ways in which all citizens will benefit.

What is your stance on eminent domain?

I believe that eminent domain should be used only in situations where the public good requires the use of eminent domain, and only in those situations where other alternatives are not reasonably available. In the past, eminent domain hs been used for the acquisition of land for roads, schools, hospitals and similar public needs.

I favor continuing that kind of use of eminent domain. I am not in favor of using eminent domain in order to allow the city to take property from citizens for the purpose of later selling that property at profit to real estate developers.

If forced to choose between budget cuts or a tax increase and those were the only two options available to you, which would you favor and why?

If forced to choose between budget cuts or tax increases, I would favor budget cuts. From looking at the current budget, it seems that there has been quite a bit of misused or wasted funds that could have been appropriated for more relevant issues rather than punishing the taxpayers.

What is your opinion of commercial and residential growth in Lenoir City and what type of industry, business or development would you most strongly support in the future?

City government should encourage reasonable commercial and residential growth in Lenoir City. However, we must make sure that city services and capabilities are adequate to provide reasonable service to new industries and residential areas.

Unfortunately, at the present time, many of our services have proved inadequate to even support the exisiting residential and commercial developments that we have in place. I would work to encourage commerical and residential growth in a planned and quality manner; but at the same time, making sure that a high quality of life is maintained for residents of our city.

We also need to attract businesses and industry that provide high pay and top-quality jobs and also are environmentally clean. I will do my best to identify these types of businesses and recruit aggressively to promote Lenoir City.

How do you feel about compliance with the state Sunshine Law, efforts to strengthen it and the notion of the public being made aware of city government deliberations and decisions in general?

A law is not a law if there are not consequences attached to it. I agree totally with the Sunshine Law. We need to keep government fair in Lenoir City.

The only way to do this is to implement a stiff fine for the violation of this law. All taxpaying citizens have the right to be informed of city government deliberations and decisions. I feel this all goes back to PUTTING THE CITY BACK IN THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE.

Are you in favor of allowing liquor stores in Lenoir City, and why or why not?

I feel that package stores are an issue that all citizens need to decide on, whether it passes or not I will support the voters’ decisions.

What is your background?

I was born Aug. 28, 1981. I have lived in Loudon County all my life. My father and mother are George Jr. and Renee Sarten. I have two sisters, Ashley and Julie Sarten. I have been married for three years to Loudon County K-9 Officer Michael Watkins. Together we have a handsome 16-month-old son named Bryson. I attended Greenback High School and Roane State Community College. I am currently employed as a customer service manager for Wal-Mart. My family and I attend Saint Thomas Catholic Church and New Providence Baptist Church.