ROGERSVILLE — The May 6 Hawkins County Mayor Republican primary will be a three-way rematch from the 2010 primary, with a couple of big differences.
One is that one of the challengers from 2010 is now an incumbent.
The other is the primary winner this year will have Surgoinsville Mayor Johnny Greer as a Democratic opponent in the Aug. 7 general election.
The GOP county mayor candidates are profiled below in alphabetical order.
— Melville Bailey, the incumbent mayor, initially decided to run for county mayor in 2009 after retiring from the Hawkins County School System after 35 years as a teacher and principal. He said he wasn't quite ready at the time to stop working, and he still isn't ready.
"I am seeking re-election because I feel that Hawkins County is headed in the right direction," Bailey said. "Positive things are happening in our county, and I want to continue to be part of that positive movement."
Among the highlights of his first four years in office, Bailey points to: no property tax increase in 2011, 2012, and 2013; eight industries investing $161.9 million in Hawkins County through expansion, creating 310 jobs; the county's unassigned fund balance has grown by $1.9 million, or 89 percent; $3 million received in grant funding; a $500,000 grant to expand Church Hill Health Department; a $500,000 grant to provide utility water in Beech Creek; the purchase of 24 new sheriff's department cruisers without borrowing money or a tax increase; new roofs on the courthouse, annex, administration building, and depot; and additional school resource officers at county schools.
"These positive movements in Hawkins County are due to a coordinated effort between the county mayor, budget committee, county commission, elected officials, county employees, sheriff's department, Hawkins County School Board and director of schools working together for the citizens of Hawkins County," Bailey said.
If elected to a second, and final, term, Bailey said his main goal is to use county revenues wisely to provide the very best county services available.
"I am the best candidate for the job because I have almost four years of valuable experience in being county mayor that my opponents do not have," Bailey said. "I have proven that I can work with the budget committee, county commission, elected officials, county employees, and Hawkins County citizens. I have proven that my staff and I are very capable in fulfilling the job of my being the chief financial officer and purchasing agent for Hawkins County."
Bailey added, "In this job common sense is critical to the overall day-to-day operations of county government. I enjoy the interaction that I have with people during the course of doing my job. I do my best to show respect and friendliness toward all people not just a select few or at election time."
— Dennis Deal says he is running for county mayor again because he is very interested in the future well-being of Hawkins County, and he sincerely believes he can contribute to that future well-being.
Deal has nearly 20 years experience in municipal government, 14 of those years as the mayor of Church Hill.
"During my tenure as mayor of Church Hill, the city has grown and flourished," Deal said. "I believe those same principles of leadership and guidance which motivated city employees and city officials to their dedication and hard work can apply to county government and reap rewards there as well. I believe Hawkins County suffers from a lack of leadership from the county mayor, and I know that I can provide that needed leadership."
Deal retired from Sun Chemical Corp. after 38 years of employment, mostly in sales and marketing. Prior to being elected mayor he served four years as a Church Hill alderman.
"My past employment and city government experience has helped me develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills," Deal said. "My sales and marketing experience especially assisted me in developing abilities to attract others to embrace concepts and ideas I propose. I also learned the importance of active listening to the ideas and advice of others. I think my experience in the workplace and in city government has well prepared me for any skills and abilities I will need to be county mayor. My desire to see this county prosper provides me with all the motivation I will need to work as hard as I can."
His first goal as county mayor will be to improve the overall financial condition of the county. He will apply for and then use all available grants, including to bring utility water to households near the Carters Valley landfill.
He will also utilize a $48,000 grant for litter pickup that is going unused by the county mayor's office, "while roadside trash piles up along our county roadways."
He will also work with other officials to make long- and short-range plans for economic growth, and more effectively manage county debt.
"I believe that past behavior and past performance is the best indicator of future behavior, therefore I believe that the record of a candidate is important information voters need to make their decisions before casting a vote," he said. "I do not believe the record of the incumbent mayor warrants him a second term. ... I can assure you that no one will work any harder for you than I will if you elect me your county mayor."
— Kelly Markham took early retirement a few years ago and now desires to use his time and knowledge to benefit others.
"After praying for direction, I felt led to run for county mayor," Markham said. "I want the families in Hawkins County to have quality schools, high-paying jobs, reasonable taxes, and a safe, drug-free environment. I would be a strong leader with my sole purpose being to serve the citizens of Hawkins County."
For more than 30 years Markham managed a manufacturing support department in which he was over salaried and hourly employees, in charge of creating budgets, and developed and met timelines.
"This knowledge and experience will help with collaborating and making decisions, managing the county's budget, and serving the needs of Hawkins County citizens," Markham said. "As a hobby, I have owned and operated a karate studio, Kelly's Heroes, in Rogersville for over 30 years. This has given me the confidence, patience and discipline to better serve, collaborate with, and bring satisfaction to my members."
Markham added, "I will support no increased tax burden on Hawkins County citizens. We can maintain county services without increasing taxes. I will be very cost effective — not 'stingy' — in how we spend county money. I will work to create new job opportunities, while supporting existing businesses, to help develop better-paying jobs in our community. I will also be a voice for creating 'home grown' businesses in our area. I will also be investigating ways to reduce the cost of health care for all county employees."
Markham said his martial arts background gives him the discipline it takes to make decisions based on facts, and his faith gives him the courage to do what is right, not what is "politically correct."
"I have the passion, faith, and drive to listen, serve, and make decisions that will benefit the entire county," he added. "I will have an open door policy. I want to hear your concerns and will do my best to meet your needs. I also have the confidence, knowledge, education, and skills to manage people, create budgets, develop and meet timelines, collaborate with committees, and make fact-based decisions."