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 24 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.
Former Wilson County Commissioner Joy Bishop challenged incumbent Paul Abercrombie for the District 24 seat on the commission in the Aug. 7 election.
Abercrombie served eight years in the U.S. Air Force. He then attended Volunteer State Community College and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He retired from AT&T/BellSouth after 35 years in various positions from lineman to control center electronic technician.
Abercrombie is married to Mary Rose Abercrombie, of Macon County. The couple has two daughters, Kim Whiteaker, of Laguardo, and Crysti Sheley, of Dickson County. They also have three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Bishop is widow of the late Glenn Bishop. She doesn’t have any children and is active in Westland United Methodist Church. She has a bachelor’s degree and worked 28 years at Tennessee Woolen Mills in Lebanon.
What prompted you to seek office? Was it a personal initiative or did others encourage you?
Abercrombie: I was asked by some to finish the term of Aral Preston, who died in a car accident. I enjoyed serving, so I ran for election and would like to continue to serve.
Bishop: The difference in my values and those of the incumbent prompted my seeking office. Voters need a choice. Commissioner votes can cost property owners unnecessary money. Recently, after a costly vote was cast, I jokingly said, “I may just run for commissioner again myself.” Immediately, there was serious encouragement from others. After much thought and prayer, I qualified when it became obvious nobody else intended to run.
What are the most important issues in your race, and how do you plan to address them?
Abercrombie: Everything that comes before the commission is important. It would be nearly impossible to point to one issue and say this is the most important as they are have varying degrees of importance.
Bishop: Probably the adoption of the 2014-15 budget will be the first issue the newly elected commissioners will face. I plan to attend the summer budget committee meetings being drafted. Changes will occur during the next four years throughout the county. Each change will present a new challenge. Decisions must be made as those challenges present themselves. I will do my best to promote progress while watching the tax dollars.
What would you say to voters opposed to your running for office to convince them you are the most qualified?
Abercrombie: My continued experiences over the years have qualified me to make decisions in the best interests of the citizens of Wilson County.
Bishop: The incumbent and I both have voting records. I will be happy to discuss some of the issues in the past four years and show why, in many instances, I would have voted differently. I will be pointing out to District 24 how we, as property owners, should be better off financially while still having the same services if votes by our commissioner had been different.
What do you bring to the table that your opponents do not?
Abercrombie: I have more recent experiences.
Bishop: I was the first Wilson County commissioner to receive certification as a public administrator. Much research and study was made into various aspects of how county business should be conducted. This knowledge, coupled with 12 consecutive years of experience, plus my own listening ability, continued study and cooperation with the other governments within the county, should prove helpful.
How is your experience – or lack of experience – a plus or minus for the position you are seeking?
Abercrombie: Experience makes for more knowledgeable decisions.
Bishop: After serving three terms as commissioner, I chose not to run again in 1994. I strongly believe in term limits and announced a year before election that I did not intend to seek the seat again. Political life was over for me, but the situation in county government is not what many people want or expect. I’ve stepped forward to give the voters a choice. If the voters choose me, then I’ll give it my best.