Matt Brookshire

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

I do not support taking people’s homes and property. I do not support using redevelopment as a threat to people, nor as a way to scare people. I do think the use redevelopment can be an effective way to accomplish the goals that many people have for Lenoir City. Those goals include preserving those areas that make Lenoir City special and unique, like our downtown, cleaning up areas that have been neglected for years and are in extremely bad condition, and making Lenoir City a desirable place for people to live, work, attend church, go to school, and do business. I also believe that those people who could potentially be affected by redevelopment should have a voice in the process, such was the point for the community meeting on the most recent proposal. The public’s input is necessary in order for it to be successful, and in order for it to meet the goals of the community. The purpose of redevelopment in Lenoir City was NEVER intended to take people’s property. Many people who live in the proposed boundary have been misled and lied to about the true intent. Its purpose and intent were to address those areas that are having a negative impact on neighboring properties, and cannot be fixed through basic codes enforcement. It was proposed as a way to help people, not hurt people. I have never lied or withheld information about the proposed redevelopment plan. I am very grateful to those people who cared enough to task for a truthful answer, instead of simply relying on the false information that was so readily available.

What is your stance on eminent domain?

It is my opinion that eminent domain shouldn’t be used unless all other options have been tried, and they have failed. If used at all, it should be as a last resort. I also believe that eminent domain should only be used for public projects, except in those cases when it can be demonstrated that a private project would benefit the neighboring properties and the existing property owner refuses to participate and/or improve his or her property.

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?

My record as mayor explains my position on this issue. In my five years as mayor we have had some difficult decision to make regarding each year’s budget. When I first became mayor Lenoir City had been in the practice of spending more money than was being collected in taxes. It was very important to me to change that trend, and I am happy to say that we have. Over the course of five years we have managed to balance the budget every year. In fact we have finished each of the last five years with a modest surplus. We have also been able to increase our reserve funds and maintain the same level of service to the residents and taxpayers. In four of those five years we did all of this WITHOUT a tax increase. We did it by making necessary budget cuts. The year in which we did have a tax increase was a reappraisal year for all properties in Loudon County. Lenoir City opted to keep its certified tax rate of $1.30.

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?

It has always been my opinion that whatever growth we have must be “quality” growth. What I mean by that is that it should be something that has a positive impact on our city. This standard of quality should apply to both commercial and residential developments. However, we are to a point where we must begin to be very careful in how quickly we continue to grow. Growing too rapidly makes it difficult in some cases to provide certain utility services. We are currently addressing that issue. We must also consider the impact that growth is having on our local traffic and roads. I am concerned about the challenges we face in regards to traffic congestion on Hwy. 321. I have recently asked TDOT to conduct a corridor study along Hwy 321 to help us identify some changes we can make to improve traffic flow, and thankfully, they have agreed to do so. Still yet, growth is the main factor, and I think we must be careful not to let it continue without having a plan in place to control it.

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?

I think the “sunshine” law is necessary. It is my opinion that all meetings in which deliberations and decisions occur should be properly advertised and open to the public.

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

This is not a decision that will be made by the local governing body, but by the voters. It is my hope that all voters will be diligent in gathering information that will help them make the best possible decision, and that they let their opinion be known by voting. If it passes, and if I am re-elected, I will make every effort to ensure that the laws that govern this kind of business are implemented and enforced properly.

What is your background?

I grew up, the first 11 years anyway, at 310 G Street. My parents moved to Martel Estates East, and that was my home until my wife, Tashia and I married and moved into town at 800 B Street. I am a graduate of Tennessee Wesleyan College, with a bachelor’s degree in government and history. I also have my teaching certification, and have taught at North Middle School for 12 years. Tashia and I have two daughters, Madeline, age 7, and Caroline, age 2. We attend Trinity United Methodist Church. I was elected to Lenoir City Council in 1999, and I n 2001 was elected to my first term as mayor. In 2003 I was re-elected to serve a second term as mayor. And again, I am asking for the people’s support in this year’s race for mayor. I certainly hope that this year’s mayor’s race comes down to much more than just a person’s opinion of the proposed redevelopment plan. I hope people appreciate the sincerity with which I have approached this job. I hope people will consider the fact that during my five years as mayor Lenoir City has had a true balanced budget each year. I also hope that people will consider the fact that with my leadership Lenoir City has increased its reserve funds from a little over $100,000 to $900,000 in just five years. I hope the voters will appreciate that in the last five years Lenoir City has applied for, and received approximately $4 million dollars in grants.

Also, in the years I have served as mayor, Lenoir City has completed three new public parks and recreational facilities and started several new community events and programs. During my two terms as mayor we have built relationships with our state and federal officials, giving us better access to grants, appropriations and other forms of assistance. And lastly, we have started a community newsletter as a way to keep the tax-payers informed of various projects and other activities. I enjoy this job, and I enjoy working to make Lenoir City a better place to live. I hope leadership and experience are two qualities the voters look for in each candidate’s background before they make their choice.