Jim Emberton, John Wayne Hamblen and Luther Lenning all challenged incumbent Wilson County Commissioner Randy Hall for the District 25 commission seat in the Aug. 7 election.
Hall’s work experience includes a 32-year military career, in which he completed courses in logistics, budgeting, personnel, operations and training. He also completed all levels of non-commissioned officer leadership schools.
After graduating from Lebanon High School, Hall attended Cumberland Junior College at Austin Peay State University.
Hall has been married to his wife, Betsy Hall, for 42 years, and the couple has two sons, who completed seminary and are in full-time Christian ministry, and one daughter, who works part-time as a church secretary and full-time as mother of three of their seven grandchildren. Hall is also a deacon and Sunday school director at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.
Emberton retired from service in the U.S. Navy after 24 years. He then worked in manufacturing for 20 years, retiring in 2002.
He graduated from Guthrie High School in Guthrie, Ky. He also attended Cumberland University and Volunteer State Community College, majoring in business administration.
Emberton is married to Lisa Emberton, and the couple has two children, James Merle Emberton Jr. and Stephanie Jane Middleton.
Hamblen is married to Diane Hamblen, and the couple has one son, Billy Hamblen.
Lenning chose not to answer questions from The Democrat.
What prompted you to seek office? Was it a personal initiative or did others encourage you?
Hall: Part of the answer comes from the values instilled in me coming from a good, solid family background. When I went out for football, I did not dare come walking in after a hard practice and say that I was not going to play football anymore. I knew if I started something, I had to finish the job. I learned the ethics of hard work framing houses during my high school summers. While attending Cumberland Junior College, I was drafted into the Army and was sent to Vietnam, which began a 32-year military career. My experience in military service as a non-commissioner officer gave me the discipline to make tough decisions that affected other people’s lives. I use the same ethics and common sense approach in working with the people of the 25th District.
Emberton: Soon after retiring from the U.S. Navy, I volunteered to work in state Senate and House campaigns. I was inspired by these candidates’ willingness to serve. In the political arena, it is so difficult to please everyone all the time. As a result, it has its ups and downs. You have to accept the criticism and move on to the next issue. After working on these campaigns for a period of time, I decided to run myself. I represented the citizens of the 4th District as county commissioner from 2006-10.
Hamblen: I like helping people.
What are the most important issues in your race, and how do you plan to address them?
Hall: As commissioner of the 25th District, I have always paid attention to budgets, population growth and school needs. When told we did not have money to build schools, I took the Tennessee State Comptroller’s report and proved that we did. Growth from State Route 109 to the Davidson County line will soon call for education building decisions again. I believe my input will be useful in the process. I have worked to get potholes repaired, streets resurfaced, signal lights installed, drainage problems corrected, junkyards removed and animal control complaints resolved. I love serving as District 25 commissioner and would like to continue.
Emberton: I believe the most important issue in District 25 is infrastructure improvements. Due to the growth in Wilson County, traffic along some of these roads has grown considerably. East Division Street, in particular, is narrow in places and considered unsafe by those who travel it the most. A project to make improvements along this road would be costly. However, TDOT has a safety program where the federal government, state government and county government share the cost. If elected, I will ask the Road Commission to communicate with TDOT to determine if East Division would be eligible under this safety program.
Hamblen: Helping homeowners and older people in the county and kids to have good schools.
What would you say to voters opposed to your running for office to convince them you are the most qualified?
Hall: I have worked diligently in past years to address the needs and concerns of the constituents of District 25. I have often been successful in resolving problems and would like to continue to do so.
Emberton: I would say to voters who are opposed to me running, that experience does count. However, serving 16-20 years in the same political office does not guarantee success. Sooner or later complacency sets in. I am a strong supporter of term limits. Two terms for a County Commissioner is enough. I would also say to those voters who are opposed to me running that I have a proven track record of getting things done in the public and private sector.
Hamblen: I will vote to help the homeowner and the older people in my county and for kids to be safe.
What do you bring to the table that your opponents do not?
Hall: In a democracy, many people can fulfill the basic qualifications, age and citizenship. I have already stated what I bring to the table, and I never concern myself with what my opponents bring to the table. Thank goodness the voters get to make the decision on who serves.
Emberton: I believe that a proven track record of leadership is extremely important to the success of any officeholder. I held many positions of responsibility in the Navy. In the private sector, I was part of a management team for a privately owned manufacturing facility. For 44 years, I worked hard to ensure that my responsibilities were conducted in a timely, professional, effective and efficient manner.
Hamblen: I have lived here all my life and will always be here to help people, and you can always call me day or night.
How is your experience – or lack of experience – a plus or minus for the position you are seeking?
Hall: It is definitely a plus as I am familiar with county policies, procedure and personnel. I am usually able to get problems resolved quickly and efficiently. My leadership experience throughout my career has proven beneficial.
Emberton: My previous experience on the commission from 2006-10 is a plus. My committee assignments during the above period were Budget Committee, Public Works, Law Enforcement, Minutes and Planning and Zoning, each for four years. During the time I served as a commissioner, I was able to see how the different aspects of the county government worked. This prior experience will enable me to go to work immediately to ensure that essential services needed by the citizens of District 25 are provided.
Hamblen: I’m 59 years old and have lived all my life in this county and want to hear from all the people who don’t think they have a voice in the county. I want be your voice in the county. You can call me 24-7. I will always be glad to help.