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GOP county mayor candidates speak out

Working closely with businesses to help save jobs, defining “essential services” to cut costs, tapping into 33 years of county government experience and reestablishing “workshops” among County leaders are Tim Hutchison’s major themes as a Knox County Mayoral candidate.

Hutchinson points to “working with the budgets, preparing and managing a 50-plus million dollar budget personally” as Knox County Sheriff from 1990 to 2007. “Managing over a thousand employees.”

“I can go to work, from the very first day, and I won’t have to learn the job,” he added. “I know county government.”

Among his top priorities if elected, Hutchison said “immediately start working with existing businesses in Knox County to see if there is anything we can do to keep them in business and protect the jobs that we have — that we have no further loss of jobs.”

To trim the budget and eliminate waste, Hutchison said he’ll focus on “essential services” such as “schools, law enforcement, jails, health department, engineering and public works.”

Seeking to greatly reduce community grant money, Hutchison said, “A lot of these other things have been added, in a downturn in the economy, [this] is not the time to continue to spend moneys in those areas; such as many of the grants, money that they give out to different groups under the guise, or pretext, of a grant — calling it a grant.

“Giving tax dollars away to specialized groups or friends,” he added. “All of that just needs to be controlled tighter.”

Also, ”We’ve spent a tremendous amount of money building a lot of different centers and other buildings; I believe we, first, should be putting more infrastructure into school buildings and bring them up to where they should be in a tight economy,” Hutchison said.

As for job creation, Hutchison said he would be “very aggressive” toward recruiting new industry and companies looking to expand or relocate.

“The first thing I believe we need to do is work with, like the [The University of Tennessee] Research Foundation,” Hutchison said. “They try to grow companies; they’ll help those that are doing research to file patents and hope it becomes a successful company. And they are creating successful companies. The first thing that needs to happen, is we need to recruit these people to see if they’ll stay in Knox County once they are successful.

“And work with the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Department of Energy in the same manner of how we can get with them and bring in more industry and businesses to our area,” he added.

A licensed contractor who said he temporarily retired in January to run for County Mayor, Hutchison, 57, said he wants to reinstate an annual “workshop” of County leaders, one where he participated as sheriff —a practice led by former Knox County Executive Dwight Kessel.

“Bring everyone together ... for a workshop. The school superintendent, it would be two or three commissioners, it would be me, the sheriff, and it would be the other officeholders; and we would go over the budget,” he said. “Everybody in Knox County government operates out of one pile of money, so to speak. ... It’s a fact of getting everyone together and saying, ‘here’s how much money we have. ... And see what areas, in a bad economy, that everyone can start cutting back.”

“Mr. Kessel used to always do it, and it worked well, everyone had a real good understanding of the available funds,” Hutchison added.

Attempting to clear up misconceptions, Hutchison pointed to his GOP opponent, state Sen. Tim Burchett, and his most ardent supporters.

“One of the things that they’ve tried to allude to was that I was a part of the Jan. 31 [Black Wednesday] reappointment process; I was not,” Hutchison said. “Matter of fact, he [Burchett] just outright said that.”


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