As is to be expected during an election, there are false rumors circulating about my candidacy. Given the nature of these rumors and the unfounded fear that some have expressed, I would like to set the record straight.
First, I support our schools. So much so that I have fought time and time again to save teachers and critical programs like Reading Recovery. My son is an ORHS graduate and my daughter is a student at Linden. I have been very active in our schools since I moved here 12 years ago and could not be more impressed with the quality of our teachers and staff.
The rumor (that I am not supportive of our schools) is likely attributable to my frequent challenges of our superintendent and school board. My primary concern is that, in spite of being the most generous city in the state, your money is not making it into the classroom where it belongs. Elected or not, I will never tolerate putting teachers, reading specialists and other front-line employees up on the chopping block (as they do every year) before consideration has been given to cut things like a $1 million server room, a $39,000 SUV for the superintendent or the annual $100,000+ travel budget for senior administrators.
Second, I have no desire to consolidate our school system with the county system. Councilwoman Ellen Smith addressed this same rumor and I share many of her views on why this would not be to our benefit. I will point out, however, that that there is also a selfish reason that I would not support such a move. Because my family lives in the Roane County portion of Oak Ridge, my child’s access, along with many of my neighbors’ children, to our schools might be jeopardized if we were to merge with Anderson County schools.
Third, I have NEVER indicated that I would pursue cutting retirement benefits of city employees. I am not about to risk anyone’s lifelong pursuit to be self-sufficient in their senior years.
Finally, I do not oppose preserving the Alexander Inn. I am fond of this most important landmark, but expressed concern about the proposal that city council passed Monday night. They did so unanimously with a single vote and with less than a week’s notice to the public about the details of the taxpayer’s obligation. Those details were very complex, but simplified came down to this: Taxpayers just gave a $1.2 million gift to a business (an assisted living facility) that did not compete for this gift and is part of an industry that is thriving and therefore needs no incentive to build and operate at a profit.
We are told again and again that public/private partnerships are “common practice;” in other words, “Everyone is doing it!” I do not believe that government should regularly use your money to pick winners and losers in the free market. If we want to become truly competitive, then we need to level the playing field for ALL businesses (new and existing) by other means like reducing the tax rate and controlling how government spends your money, because it is ALL your money.
I make every effort to be more transparent than what I see in our government. I do not run from questions and I do not attempt to whitewash data with emotional spin. I have openly shared my views on my website, to include some of the more controversial issues that others avoid. I will continue to do so. I welcome anyone with a concern or question to contact me at any time…that is why my phone number, email address and home address are listed on my website and/or campaign materials. Thank you.