ROGERSVILLE — Three candidates are seeking the Republican nomination for the Hawkins County trustee seat currently held by Patsy Courtney who is retiring after serving two full terms and one partial term.
The winner of the May 6 Republican primary will face the lone Democratic candidate, District 2 school board member Chris Christian, in the Aug. 7 general election.
The three Republican candidates, Bill Helton, Becky Lawson-Rogers, and Jim Shanks, are profiled in alphabetical order.
— Bill Helton first decided to run for trustee in 2002 because there were lots of lawsuits against Hawkins County by several office holders. He said those lawsuits were a great expense to our residents. Helton ran again for the office in 2006.
"I have desired and worked for the opportunity to serve this county for years," Helton said. "I am confident that if the voters give me the opportunity to serve, I will make them proud. I want to give back to Hawkins County because I am proud to have lived here all my life."
Helton is currently employed by Werner Enterprise on their dedicated account with AGC at Church Hill. Prior to that he was employed with IPC&L in Rogersville for 34 years, and was one of the last 12 employed before the plant completely closed.
His goals and priorities for the office will be for the staff and himself to treat all people equally and with respect.
"I look forward to working and getting better acquainted with my office staff and Hawkins County residents," Helton said. "I look forward to scheduling and attending all necessary training for certification so that I may be current on all information regarding my office. I would make sure to invest all funds for the betterment and security of the county while being mindful of all requirements and restrictions of the law. Most of all, my goal would be to make God proud, my family proud and Hawkins County residents proud."
Helton said his life experience, and working at all levels in local industry, has prepared him for this job. He knows what it is to be held accountable for decisions, and how important it is to follow federal and state laws, rules and regulations.
"I would request the voters put their trust and faith in me and give their vote for Hawkins County trustee to me," he said. "I have given so much of myself since 2002 requesting you to give me this opportunity. I have met, talked and ate with so very many of you through the years. I can only request your vote. I am confident that I can do the job of trustee. I cannot prove that to you unless you give me a chance."
— Becky Lawson-Rogers decided to run for trustee following a career spent raising a family and working in the banking industry. "My children are adults and I was looking for challenge and a way to serve," she said. "When surveying opportunities, I realized the office of trustee was a perfect fit because the trustee has the same duties that I currently perform every day. I believe I can be effective and create the smooth transition that will be required by the retirement of our current trustee.
Lawson-Rogers is a graduate of Surgoinsville High School and Whitney Business College with a degree in accounting, and has 23 years experience in banking, currently working as a loan officer and customer service specialist.
She said because a trustee is the banker for the county, her experience as a banker serving the individuals and businesses of Hawkins County for 23 years has uniquely qualified her to perform the duties of trustee.
Lawson- Rogers said her goals as trustee would be to ensure that Hawkins County citizens are well served by their tax dollars with the timely distribution of funds for county services and provide exceptional customer service to everyone who enters the trustee's office and requires her service.
"I am the only candidate seeking this office that has worked in the banking industry," she said. "I am confident that I can perform the required duties. I can effectively receive and disburse funds, send appropriate notices, keep fair and accurate records, make timely deposits, comply with a uniform chart of accounts authorized by the state comptroller's office, file financial reports, be prepared for local and state audits, manage cash flow, and invest for maximum yield with the highest degree of safety."
Lawson-Rogers added, "I am a lifelong resident of Hawkins County. My family has lived in this area for generations. I have a deep affection for its people and want to give back to the community that has given so much to me. I vow to work to the very best of my ability to prove myself worthy of this sacred trust."
— Jim Shanks said he sees the office of trustee as an opportunity to serve his community.
"Having watched the state of the economy and some of the decisions being made at other levels of government, I firmly believe we need to work together to improve the local situation for our children and grandchildren in Hawkins County," Shanks said. "It's my belief that we need to have a vision of where we need to be and establish a plan to achieve this goal."
Shanks graduated from Cherokee High School and then attended East Tennessee State University where he received an associate of applied science in criminology and a bachelor of business administration, in accounting. Since graduating he has been employed as a police officer and detective for more than 20 years at the Rogersville Police department.
"My experience in law enforcement has given me a unique perspective on life," he said. "I have worked with many citizens from varied backgrounds, and this has helped me to develop my communication skills and a better general understanding of people's needs in our local area."
Among Shanks' goals if elected would be to run the trustee's office in a professional and courteous manner. Another priority is to inform citizens of their financial obligations and collect this obligation for Hawkins County.
"It's important that we explore every avenue of investing idle funds to achieve the greatest return," he said. "This revenue would be from a source other than taxation. I would strive to be as effective and efficient as possible always remembering as a public servant, the citizens are our employer.
"Through the years I have been positively impacted by role models who challenged me to make a positive difference in Hawkins County," he said. "I treat everyone equally with respect and believe in fairness and good manners, especially when any type of conflict arises. Striving to be honest and trustworthy has always been a priority of mine. I graduated with a business degree in accounting, and this will be the foundation on which to prosper in this position."
He added, "As a registered voter, it is your responsibility to build the best team possible for Hawkins County. This team will have to work together to achieve our goal of making the government in Hawkins County stronger. I am a highly qualified team player who has the ability to fulfill this particular starting position."