Newcomers try for Loudon commission
By Hugh G. Willett, knoxnews.com
Two political newcomers are vying for the only seat being
contested on the Loudon County Commission in this week's election.
William Jenkins, a Democrat, is challenged by Republican Austin Shaver
for the 2nd District, Seat B, which represents the Lenoir City area.
The seat is being vacated by Shirley Reno, who served as interim
appointee when former 2nd District, Seat B commissioner Chuck Jenkins
was appointed property assessor.
Jenkins, 28, is an employee of the Lenoir City Parks and Recreation
Department. This is his first run for public office.
"The main reason I'm running is the school system," Jenkins said. "For
some reason, they are not getting the money they need."
It's not that there isn't enough money, Jenkins said, but he is not sure
if it's being properly allocated.
"It's hard to tell just where the money is going until I can get in
there and look at how things are being run," he said.
Jenkins said he does not support the wheel tax, which is supposed to
generate several million dollars per year for the schools.
"I think there is enough money without the wheel tax."
Jenkins said he is also opposed to recent proposals by county commission
aimed at raising the medical insurance rates for county workers.
"I'm for the working man," he said. "I don't think it's fair to ask the
county workers to pay more for insurance."
Austin Shaver, 25, is a 2007 graduate of the University of Tennessee law
school and is employed by the Knoxville law firm of Kennerly, Montgomery
& Finley PC.
Shaver, who lives in Lenoir City, said his priorities are transparency
in government and the accountability of elected officials to their
constituents. This is also his first run for public office.
"I think it is important that we as commissioners remember who we were
elected to represent," Shaver said.
Shaver said he is opposed to all new taxes, including property tax
increases and the proposed wheel tax. He is also in favor of the
Tennessee Property Tax Freeze Act of 2007, which would limit increases
of property taxes for senior citizens aged 65 and older.
Shaver said he is concerned about rising insurance costs for county
employees and would like to limit those increases wherever possible. If
insurance costs are to be raised, they should be raised for new hires
first, he added.
The school building program is one of Shaver's priorities, but unlike
many on the commission and the school board, he believes the report
prepared in 2007 by the Public Building Authority at a cost to the
county of $50,000 should be used as a guideline for the program.
While some estimates have put the building plan as high as $150 million,
Shaver believes the PBA estimate of about $42 million is closer to the