Commissioners were uncontested for seven of the 25 total seats on the commission. They are Bobby Franklin in District 3, Terry Scruggs in District 7, Sara Patton in District 9, John Gentry in District 11, Terry Ashe in District 12, Gary Keith in District 17 and William Glover in District 19. Eight commissioners opted not to seek re-election.
The Democrat sent questionnaires to each commission candidate in the contested races, along with requests for biographical information. The following are the candidates’ answers and information about them:
In District 21, Commissioner Cindy Brown didn’t seek re-election, and two candidates – Mike Kurtz and Eugene Murray – qualified to run for the seat.
Kurtz is married to his wife, Joy, and they have two children. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University and a law degree from Nashville School of Law. He was formerly a U.S. Marine Corps reservist and worked for the Department of Human Resources, Wilson County juvenile court, Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, and Lee and Lee Attorneys at law. He currently works for Lebanon Special School District.
Murray will be married to Velma Jean Enoch Murray for 55 years in December. They have three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They live on Quail Meadow Drive and have for 40 years. He graduated from Lebanon High School and attended Cumberland Collage, Volunteer State Community College and the University of Tennessee Extension school in Nashville. He completed 188 credit hours of further education and attained the degree of certified public administrator through the University of Tennessee Center for Government Training. He worked for the Lebanon Police Department in the 1970s and 1980s. He was appointed interim circuit court clerk in the early 1980s. He worked at Toshiba America Corp. as material manager and retired in 2004. Currently, he serves as a Wilson County Schools bus driver, where he has served for 15 years.
What prompted you to seek office? Was it a personal initiative or did others encourage you?
Kurtz: It is easy to sit back and think you have solutions and tell everyone how to do things, but so much more difficult to jump in and help find the solutions. Between people telling me I need to be involved in our county leadership and my own thinking that I can use my knowledge and experiences to contribute to the direction of our county is why I am running for county commission.
Murray: I have a couple of things that I could not get done during my last term on the county commission. Access to our county clinics for part-time county employees, with the help of Commissioner Jeff Joines and the school board, was passed by the full county commission in early 2014. Also, I was working on an exemption of new automobiles from emission testing in our county. I worked with the state legislature, and between the state legislature and the Wilson County Commission in May 2016, the Wilson County Commission passed a local ordinance for the exemption of newer cars from emissions for three years based on state law, which passed Senate Bill 777 and House Bill 721 into law under Public Chapter 1028. All this is waiting approval from the Environmental Protection Agency, and it has up to 18 months to approve. By the way, new legislation from the Tennessee legislature is calling for elimination of these tests for all automobiles and this also is awaiting approval from the Environmental Protection Agency.
What are the most important issues in your race, and how do you plan to address them?
Kurtz: Education, funding and employees are the most important issues that will need to be addressed over the next few years. Looking ahead, ready to move forward and progressive thinking.
Murray: Growth, growth and growth: Of course, we must have growth, but it sometimes is a two edged sword because it begins to strain our resources. We must provide schools, public safety, roads and emergency management. We will work with our planning group. I serve on the Board of Zoning Appeals. Our Planning Department has added additional employees to help with this workload. We will work with our board of education, WEMA and Wilson County Road Commission to determine areas of concern from those frontline people who know first hand the problems that need attention.
Think of our county 20 years from now. Name three things that must be addressed now to make it better for the children of this county.
Kurtz: We need to take action now on purchasing property for schools, develop a recreation plan for children’s enjoyment and quality of life and continually remind them to be kind.
Murray: We need quality schools that are safe, and this includes safe school busses. We need roads and bridges updated to the time. We need to maintain a business economy that provides good jobs and affordable housing so our graduates from high schools and colleges don't have to leave our community to find jobs unless they wish to do so.
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