WJHL hosts Johnson City commission candidate forum

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Two weeks from Tuesday, voters will choose the next president of the United States. But in many communities, they’ll also decide other key state and local races.

In Johnson City, voters will choose the majority of the board of commissioners. Five candidates want to serve the people of Johnson City on the city commission, and voters will elect three of them.

It’s a big decision because these are the people who’ll decide much of what impacts you every day from roads, to schools, to taxes.

This race will appear on the ballots for Washington, Sullivan and Carter counties.

The candidates took part in a live forum Monday night on WJHL.com.

You can see the complete forum here:

The first question of the night: Would you be willing to raise taxes and fees for any reason, and if so  why?

Here are the candidates answers (in part):

Todd Fowler: “We’ve been taxed enough right now so I don’t see that we would need to increase any of the taxes because of the increase we’ve just had. The county taxes were increased, the city taxes were increased, and we need to be fiscally responsible with what we’ve got.”

William (Bud) Hill, Jr: “I’m against any type of tax, property tax whatsoever. When the county raised taxes on us and when the city also taxed us I came out by saying that they double dipped on us without nobody having prior knowledge of it. If there was ever a tax raise as it should go to the voters.”

Clayton Stout: “If you look at the property taxes and what we implemented we earmarked those dollars and pennies to go to certain projects and certain things and people see those things going to work for them.”

Ralph Van Brocklin: “There are situations where you want to invest in your community and the only way to do it is through a tax increase. Now what I am looking for when we have that additional tax increase at some point is that we’re investing in something that brings a dollar a value back that is greater than what we’re asking the citizens in the tax increase.”

Joe Wise: “I don’t want to raise taxes for the simple fact of raising taxes it’s not the first answer, it’s not the second answer, it will be the answer after all other reasonable options have been explored.”

Two of the candidates running are currently on the commission, former mayor Ralph Van Brocklin, and current mayor Clayton Stout.

The second question of the night: Can you name one capital project that you believe is critically needed in the city and that you would fight to get funding for if elected?

Todd Fowler: “I think the most important thing is getting our area ready for businesses to move here.”

William (Bud) Hill, Jr: “More in line of not exactly a Freedom Hall since the school system is actually using Freedom Hall maybe a sort of a project big enough to encompass the whole area.”

Clayton Stout: “A project that brings in real economic return for a community is a sports complex.”

Ralph Van Brocklin:  “My fellow on the commission I’m happy to say views things the same way that I do with the sports complex and that would be my suggestion.”

Joe Wise:  “There are other kinds of capital needs that exist that really aren’t quite as exciting and not as sexy and don’t yield a lot of net gain and those are things like getting the cafeteria out of Freedom Hall onto the campus at Liberty Bell.”

The election is on November 8th.  If you vote early, you will also see the Johnson City Commission race on the ballot. Early voting in Tennessee ends November 3rd.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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