ROGERSVILLE — At one time, Melville Bailey and Gary Hicks sat beside each other on the Hawkins County Commission, and on Aug. 2 they’ll be beside each other again — on the state Republican primary ballot — albeit as opponents.
Bailey, who completes his second term as Hawkins County mayor at the end of August, announced Tuesday he’s running for the District 9 Tennessee House of Representative seat currently held by Rep. Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville).
District 9 represents Hawkins and Hancock counties.
Prior to being appointed to the House seat in December of 2015, Hicks was the County Commission’s Budget Committee chairman, and chairman pro tem, and the commissioner who holds those positions traditionally sits next to the county mayor.
Hicks was elected to his first full term in 2016 and currently sits on the Budget Subcommittee, Finance Committee and Health Committee.
Bailey announced in December he wasn’t seeking re-election and said he planned on retiring and spending more time with family.
He told the Times News Tuesday, however, that as he discussed his impending retirement with constituents, he was encouraged to continue serving the area by seeking the District 9 House seat.
“About eight weeks ago, I announced my intention not to seek a third term as Hawkins County’s mayor,” Bailey said. “That was a difficult decision for me because I realized my role as county mayor provided me with opportunities to meet and understand the needs of communities across our part of the region. As I discussed my upcoming retirement with constituents, it became apparent that I had an opportunity to still serve this wonderful region by seeking the District 9 State Representative seat.”
Bailey added, “As I thought more about seeking this position, I realized that being retired from a full-time job would afford me the opportunity to continue to be available to the constituents, to local elected county officials in Hawkins County and Hancock County and have time to fully commit to the needs of our region.”
Bailey identified his top priorities if elected as: to continue to strengthen the public educational system; to acquire grant funds for Hawkins and Hancock counties and their cities for water utility districts, sewer projects, solid waste and other infrastructure; to improve communication between Nashville and Hawkins and Hancock counties; to monitor and oppose unfunded mandates that will adversely affect taxpayers statewide; and to work with agencies that actively recruit industry into Hawkins and Hancock counties.
In response to Bailey’s announcement Tuesday, Hicks told the Times News, “All I can say is that it is an honor to serve in the legislature, and I look forward to hitting the campaign trail at the appropriate time. Meanwhile, I’m focused on the job that I was elected to do here in Nashville.”
On Tuesday, the Times News spoke extensively with Bailey about his decision to seek the state office, the budget crisis and tax increase that have been the focus of his past two years in office, and why he feels he should replace Hicks in Nashville. A video of that interview can be seen in the online version of this article at www.timesnews.net.