Mike McIntire, Pat Shull and Nathan Vaughn — all of whom are running to be the city’s next mayor — attended a forum, where each was asked three questions under the broad categories of quality of life, economic development and infrastructure.
Candidates Joe Carr and Dennis Mabb did not attend the event.
Wednesday’s forum marked the second one hosted this campaign season by the Rotary Club. A third and final forum will be held for the Board of Education candidates on May 1.
McIntire is Kingsport’s vice mayor; he retired from Eastman Chemical Company, was the business administrator at First Board Street United Methodist Church and has served on eight boards, commissions and committees over the years.
“I want to make sure we continue good financial management. Our financial health in the city is the best it’s ever been, with a large rainy day fund,” McIntire said. “I have a proven record. We’re doing the right things and the (Board of Mayor and Aldermen) is a team effort, led by a mayor, and you have to have a mayor who can bring people together to move us forward. I think I’m the right person to do that.”
Here are McIntire’s thoughts on the following issues:
On healthcare in Kingsport
“We’ve got some acrimony over the Ballad situation. I hope the sooner we can get behind Ballad and pray that they’re successful and do what they need to do to provide outstanding care, we’ll all be better off and we’ll see the community move forward.”
On multimodal transportation, specifically sidewalks
In regard to the new sidewalk coming to Stone Drive, McIntire said the grant that will fund the project began under the Obama administration, which pushed it down to the states. The states then offered grants, paying 95 percent of the project.
“When I first heard about it, I was excited. Then I found out it had to go on a federal highway, and I was less excited about it,” McIntire said. However, if Kingsport didn’t accept the money, it would go to another community, McIntire added.
On bringing jobs to Kingsport
“My economic development plan includes building off of the RCAM (Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing), taking advantage of Gov. Lee’s vocational training and encourage and support our businesses to create jobs,” McIntire said.
Shull is a retired U.S. Army colonel, former alderman and current Sullivan County commissioner. During Wednesday’s forum, Shull touted his military service, noting that as a major he led a task force during the first Gulf War in Iraq, served at the Pentagon, and as a colonel was the chief logistics war planner in Korea.
“I think having a proven record in combat is indicative of someone who can handle great stress,” Shull said. “I have the right experience, I’ve been preparing in essence for this all my life and I look forward to serving as your mayor.”
Here are Shull’s thoughts on the following issues:
Emphasizing the heath and well-being citizens
Shull said while he did vote on a resolution for Ballad to revisit its decision regarding the trauma center and NICU at Holston Valley Medical Center, he said he agreed with a recent opinion piece about how folks should let the COPA process play out.
“Kingsport has an outstanding quality of life, and I will maintain the quality of life amenities we have here, including the Greenbelt, Bays Mountain and the Aquatic Center,” Shull said.
Best way to fund infrastructure needs
“Potholes is the No. 1 concern I’m hearing, and I’d like to put more money towards potholes. But I’d like to reset our priorities,” Shull said. “I will listen and have quarterly town hall meetings, and reworking the budget will be mission one when I take office.”
Most important area to develop in Kingsport
“We can’t neglect any area of Kingsport, and I’m going to pursue any economic development program, but it shouldn’t hurt existing businesses, be a really good deal for citizens, and it can’t have significant detrimental effect on the city budget.”
Vaughn is a former state representative, former Kingsport vice mayor, and an insurance agent for 36 years. Vaughn said his campaign is about the candidate who has a H.E.A.R.T. for all of the people: Healthcare, Economic Opportunities, Accessibility, Roads and Taxes.
“I believe healthcare is an economic opportunity in Kingsport. Many folks are dependent on that for their day-to-day security, and I think it’s important as a community we support that,” Vaughn said. “I’m not against Ballad. What I am for is Kingsport, for Holston Valley and Indian Path and making sure people in this community stay safe.”
Here are Vaughn’s thoughts on the following issues:
Regionalism as it relates to quality of life
“It’s a simple, theoretical term, but in practice it’s very difficult. Regionalism has to do with what we do when communities come together to support each other against certain issues,” Vaughn said. “It has to be an ongoing basis, it can’t be one issue, because everyone isn’t going to win on every issue.”
The single most important infrastructure issue
“People say our roads are in terrible condition. I don’t know that I necessarily agree with the word ‘terrible.’ Do we have some real opportunities? Yes we do,” Vaughn said. “Maintenance is one of the last things budgeted by communities and the first thing that’s cut. Once you get behind in a maintenance program, it’s difficult to get caught up. What I want to see as a city government is stability in our maintenance operation so we don’t have these types of situations occur.”
Thoughts on public/private partnerships
“It’s key to work together as a community to bring out economic opportunities. No question we need to build bridges with the business community such that we spur innovation,” Vaughn said. “We need to bring about innovation, diversify our community and make sure we are working with the private sector at every opportunity. They need to know the city of Kingsport is open for business.”