KINGSPORT - Model City voters will go to the polls on May 15 to elect three people to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Two incumbents and four challengers are vying for these three seats.
Those who want to vote early can do so April 25 through May 10 at the Sullivan County Election Commission Office in Blountville, or - beginning May 4 - at a satellite location in Kingsport at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium, 1550 Fort Henry Drive.
The hours at both locations are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. until noon Saturday.
Vice-Mayor Larry Munsey and Alderman Ken Marsh - who have both served eight years on the BMA - are seeking re-election. Alderman Ken Maness, appointed to the BMA last year after Hoyt Denton resigned to run for Sullivan County mayor, has chosen not to seek re-election. Mayor Dennis Phillips is running unopposed for re-election.
Challenging the alderman incumbents are three political newcomers - Ray Cain, Bill Hillman and Richard Samples. The fourth challenger, Jantry Shupe, ran for alderman in 2003.
Cain, 53, worked 22 years with Oakwood Markets and now works at Downtown Flowers. Hillman, 55, has worked for Weyerhaeuser for 34 years. Samples, 62, is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and former high school teacher. Shupe, a Kingsport native, manages Oak Hill Funerals and Cremations in Kingsport.
The Times-News recently asked the candidates a series of questions addressing issues facing the Model City, including annexation, education and the proposed higher education center in downtown Kingsport.
This series will highlight the answers to one question each day.
Q: Kingsport's five-year annexation policy focuses on land in the Rock Springs community and parts of the Sullivan Gardens community. What are your thoughts on this policy? What other areas of Sullivan County should the city be looking at to annex?
Cain: In my opinion, the reason for the Rock Springs and Sullivan Gardens annexation was due to property that could be developed. The policies which have already been set have my full support.
As for any other annexation, the city first needs to fill in the gaps, especially in the Lynn Garden and Sullivan Gardens area and in any other areas inside the boundaries of the city limits that are not annexed.
Hillman: The Rock Springs and Sullivan Gardens areas are densely populated areas and appear a nice fit for annexation. However, the city needs to take into consideration the citizens' feelings and what they feel is best for them.
Annexation can be a painful thing for everyone if not done properly. However, if the city is to grow and prosper, annexation is a necessary part of the process. Bloomingdale is another area I would look at.
Marsh: The BMA has approved an eight-phase annexation plan for the area roughly bounded by Rock Springs Road, State Route 347, I-26 and Sullivan Gardens Parkway. Approximately $20 million has been allocated for initial services in this area and will be invested over the next three years. Additional services will be extended at significant added cost.
These investments are certain to significantly increase the value of homes and land in the annexed areas. There is every reason to expect major residential development in each of the eight areas as they are included within the city and services are made available.
One of our recent development problems has been the lack of affordable and vacant land for residential development. Annexation is aimed at remedying this situation. Upon owner request, we should consider other areas for annexation within the urban growth boundary.
Munsey: I think the city's annexation policy should focus on emerging neighborhoods like those in Rock Springs, in parts of the Sullivan Gardens community and in the eastern part of the city. These efforts should be managed in a very thoughtful manner and in such a way as to be cost effective and to benefit both the city and its neighbors.
Samples: If the city is going to annex any part of the county, the citizens of that area should have the right to vote on the annexation. The citizens have the right to decide if they want to be in the city or not and that should be done by referendum, not just a vote by the BMA.
Shupe: Annexation (strategically planned) can benefit all involved. The Edinburgh development is an indication of the success and growth of Kingsport. The city's policy should involve strategic and thoughtful planning in an effort to benefit all involved.