- Family Features
- Business Directory
- Gallery Of Homes
- Subscribe Now!
- Place A Classified Ad
- New! Digital e-Edition
GOPers sign tax pledge
Oct 22, 2004 12:00 am
A third of local candidates asked to sign a pledge vowing to "vigorously oppose" any tax increase in Mt. Juliet or Wilson County have declined to do so, according to West Wilson Republicans Chairman Mark Cygler.
The "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," circulated among candidates by the political group along with a voters' guide questionnaire, asks local political hopefuls to vote against any increase in taxes and "insist that government operate within existing revenues."
Those who have signed the pledge include Mt. Juliet mayoral candidates Frank Henderson and Mitchell Queener; Mt. Juliet City Commission candidates Theresa Harmon, Ray Justice and Ed Hagerty; Wilson County Commission District 2 candidate Dorinda Wolentarski and State Rep. Susan Lynn.
Mt. Juliet mayoral candidate Jim Bradshaw had yet to respond as of Thursday afternoon, according to Cygler.
Those who have not signed the document, however, maintain they have no intention of raising local taxes. Instead, many noted they would not want to be locked into the agreement if a dire need for revenue arose.
In fact, Justice expressed similar feelings in signing the pledge.
"I absolutely oppose a property tax in the City of Mt. Juliet and have fought to keep our budget manageable for the past four years. I want anyone who reads this to understand that in the event of some type of disaster, civil or physical, or something arises such as a state law requiring a property tax for municipalities," he wrote, " … I will reserve the right to vote in the best interests of the citizens of District 1 and the City of Mt. Juliet."
And while the West Wilson Republican group's website indicates State Sen. Mae Beavers is among those who declined to sign the document, she said Thursday she had responded by noting the pledge does not apply to her position in state government.
"I never said 'no.' I gave them an explanation as to why I didn't need to sign it," Beavers commented. "I've signed a tax pledge every time I've run. I'm in the middle of my term. We didn't have a tax increase the whole time I was on the (Wilson) County Commission … I haven't voted for a tax increase since I've been in the legislature.
"For them to ask me to sign a pledge on the city and the county taxes that I don't have a vote on is crazy … I am a state Senator. I am not a Mt. Juliet Commissioner. I am not a Wilson County Commissioner any longer."
Beavers said members of the West Wilson Republicans have stated the passage of a state income tax would result in higher taxes in Mt. Juliet and Wilson County. She argued, however, that such is not the case.
"That's not necessarily true … If that happened and the state took the sales tax, then those cities would have the alternative of coming up with another revenue source which could be revenue neutral," she said.
Mt. Juliet mayoral candidate Linda Elam and District 1 Commission candidate Jarod Scott, both of whom declined to sign the pledge, said their decisions were based on numerous factors.
"I'm not a fan of people running for office and signing pledges as they do so," Elam said. "I'm a very serious person, and my personal credo is that my word is my bond … I cannot foresee any situation under which I would think that it was necessary for Mt. Juliet to have a property tax. I've said that, and that's what I mean, and that's how I'm going to govern if elected."
Scott said such pledges sometimes become "empty promises" and noted that, if Mt. Juliet residents voted in favor of a tax hike through a proposed Home Rule plan, the pledge would bind him to vote against his constituency.
"I'm not a candidate that makes promises. I promise to do the best I can do, and I am not for taxes … Whoever signs that basically says I will never, ever endorse a tax of any sort, and that's kind of going in the face of whatever the citizens want," Scott said. "I am not interested in making blanket statements like that."
Ken Holland, a candidate for the Wilson County Commission's second district post, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Staff Writer Brian Harville can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 16 or by e-mail at email@example.com.