Editor’s Note: The following is a series of questions and answers taken verbatim from a Lebanon Democrat questionnaire recently filled out and returned by each candidate in the District 21 Wilson County Commission race. The Democrat will publish the responses from candidates in this and other races leading up to the Aug. 7 general election.
Incumbent Eugene Murray will face challenger Cindy Forbes Brown in the Aug. 7 race for District 21 Wilson County commissioner.
Murray has served on the commission for four terms. He works for the Wilson County Transportation Department as a special needs school bus driver. He said he started working for First Student in 2004 and joined Wilson County schools when it took over the bus service three years later.
His past work history includes retiring from Toshiba after 24 years as a material manager, as well as working as a patrol officer and detective for Lebanon police in the 1970s and early ’80s.
He attended Cumberland College, Volunteer State Community College and the University of Tennessee Center for Government Training and earned a degree as a certified public administrator. He also received a certificate for public service level one county executive with 45 credit hours.
He’s married to Jean Enoch Murray for the past 50 years and has three children, Marjorie Ferrell, Anthony Murray and Sharie Jones. He has four grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.
Brown is a former substitute teacher in Wilson County schools. She worked with Trice Appraisals for seven years and has worked in the Wilson County assessor’s office for the past 12 years.
She’s married to Bart Brown, and they have two daughters, Crystal, 32, and Brittany, 28.
What prompted you to seek office? Was it a personal initiative or did others encourage you?
Murray: I have served the 21st District for four terms. I feel I have served this district well and look forward to serving another term.
Brown: When the commission re-districted our area, they took our residence out of the 15th district into the 21st district. I was elected twice to represent the 21st district until I married and moved to another district. I formally had to resign. Many people said I did a great job before, and I could do it again, plus my kids are grown and gone.
What are the most important issues in your race, and how do you plan to address them?
Murray: There are several issues, including funding for new schools. We are in the process now of renovating Carroll Oakland School due to overcrowding. We are just now beginning to see some increases in new home construction. Our planning office and inspector’s office will need new employees to keep up with this demand. We have one new employee in each office now in training to keep ahead of the increases. We need to develop an employee pay plan to keep our employees competitive with our surrounding counties. We have excellent department heads who are salaried less than our surrounding counties. A comprehensive play plan study and upgrade will help us keep these valuable employees. We have begun this process and hope to have this completed by the end of the term. We will reinstate a staffed tourism office, beginning with the 2014-15 budget.
Brown: Ways to help taxpayers.
What would you say to voters opposed to your running for office to convince them you are the most qualified?
Murray: Being a county commissioner is very challenging, especially in the area of possible tax increases, which are very unpopular but sometimes necessary to maintain a well-balanced government. The most important factor for a county commissioner is experience. I have 16 years experience and have served on most all committees in the county government. I serve presently as chairman of the Finance Committee. This committee has the responsibility for establishing policy and procedures pertinent to a sound and efficient financial management system for administering the funds of Wilson County.
Brown: I know the people of the 21st District, and I know I will be voting in their best interest. Always.
What do you bring to the table that your opponents do not?
Murray: I bring 16 years experience. I know how to work with other commission members and work through differences to an agreed upon resolution. As I have mentioned, I maintain my certification as a certified public administrator with 188 credit hours and 45 hours as a public service level one for county executives.
Brown: He is man, and I is woman…
How is your experience – or lack of experience – a plus or minus for the position you are seeking?
Murray: My experience is a definite plus to the position of county commissioner.
Brown: I say what I think and will always do what’s best for the taxpayers. I have represented the area before and gladly appreciate their calls and ideas.