Eddie Williams, longtime Sullivan County commissioner who heads up the county’s budget committee and was named to chair the county commission itself, brings much to the table.
Williams is an under-the-radar businessman who knows more about Sullivan County’s year-to-year budget than any other elected official involved in county government. He may not know every line item, but what he does know influences what happens in the county’s day-to-day operations and how that money is doled out to a county school system saddled with old buildings.
He’s the right guy to preside over a county commission that finally seems hungry to be led in the right direction following its decision to oust County Mayor Steve Godsey as the presiding chair over the 24-member governing body.
Godsey said he liked the commission’s action and that the decision would allow him to veto a tax increase if one were proposed. No one but perhaps Godsey buys into such political grandstanding. Taxes typically don’t get raised in an election year, and commissioners usually don’t pass a budget until after the fiscal year begins in July.
The commission’s decision to take the gavel from Mayor Godsey may cost him votes in his upcoming May primary battle with former County Mayor Richard Venable, who’s worked in economic development since his last stint in public office.
Godsey’s handling of a leadership transition at the Sullivan County Highway Department — putting a downward exclamation point on his overall poor job performance — will certainly be a focus for voters in that primary race.
Williams, meanwhile, has an opportunity to unify county commissioners and help restore the public’s confidence in county government. As he does so, other commissioners should avail themselves of Williams’ vast knowledge of the budget process.
The invaluable institutional knowledge that Eddie Williams brings to county government won’t always be available, and while it is not his responsibility to seek out a protege, someone on the commission interested in filling his shoes on budgeting should step up and soak up as much of Williams’ working understanding of the county’s finances as possible.
The change in the chairman’s seat also provides an opportunity for county commissioners to re-evaluate their individual and public agendas as they collectively move forward.comments powered by Disqus