Spencer candidate interviews

By | October 11, 2018 1:06 pm

Duane Hodges

By Hansel Moore

Nov. 6 is the next opportunity for all citizens to exercise their right to vote.

There are a number of heated contests throughout the country and issues on the state and local levels. If you are a resident of Spencer, Tennessee, there is a contest among three individuals who have thrown their hats in the ring to become the next city mayor.

Duane Hodges is one of those individuals who desires to sit in the mayor’s seat after the election. The following is a summary of a recent conversation with the mayoral candidate.

  • What makes you want to be the next mayor of the City of Spencer?

“I don’t think that the city is going in the directions that it needs to go in. I am looking at the future as the single father of a 12- year-old girl. I want this town to progress so that this will be a place that she wants to come back to after she graduates college. I want this for all the youth as well.”

  • Where do you see Spencer 10 years from now?

“I hope that we’ve gone in the right direction, where we have brought businesses here. We need to utilize Highway 111 and the resources that we have there to bring businesses to Spencer. Highway 111 is the gateway to every highway around, so let’s use that to our advantage to bring jobs to the area. We need to get the plan started now and hopefully we will be sitting good in 10 years.”

  • What kind of businesses would you like to see come to Spencer?

“I would like to see a variety of businesses, factories for all kinds of people to have jobs, technical jobs for people that have degrees, and small businesses for even a few jobs. Let’s bring it in and get it here.”

*What do you think would attract business here?

*“We have to let them know that we are open to have them here and help them any way possible to help them come here. Let businesses know that Highway 111 connects them directly to interstates in all directions. We have a low tax rates. If we have to make adjustments to get them here, then we should consider that at well. We also have to utilize the fact that we are hometown friendly; the crime rate is low.

  • What is your concept of the job of the mayor of Spencer, Tennessee?

“The mayor’s duties are to look out for the citizens of Spencer and Van Buren County. The mayor needs to be able to go out and fight to bring things here. The person should be able to go to Nashville and communicate with other officials to make things happen here for us.”

  • What is your vision for the Spencer square area?

“I think that we need to make some improvements that when people do drive through here that they see something welcoming – something that may want them to visit here, potentially settle, and possibly bring a business here.

*How do you address people who don’t want change?

“I know that there are people who don’t want change. I don’t want us to be a Cookeville or Nashville or anything like that, but we could be more like Dunlap for instance. They are a small town, but they do have quite a few things available. I want people to understand that we can’t live back 50 years ago. We need to move into the future for the children coming up and for the people moving in here. It doesn’t have to be a drastic change, but let’s make some changes to get things happening for the people.”

*How do you think the mayor of Spencer should interact with the local business organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce?

“I think it’s important that the mayor is involved in things like the Chamber. He needs to sit down, and work with them. There needs to be a good working relationship to get things moving forward. The Chamber really should be the backbone of the city as far as business, and they are supposed to be working to bring things here. I want to be the mayor that will work with them to have things for the city.”

  • How well do you think you will work with the county officials if you are elected as the new city mayor?

“I think that I would work real well with them. I have a good rapport with all of the officials. I am a people person and like to talk with people. I am the type that thinks things through and consider myself levelheaded. I know that I could work with the county mayor, so that we can work together to have things for both the city and the county.

“I think that eventually we should have a metropolitan government where we combine the two. We are too small to have two governments. That might make a lot of people mad, but if people would understand two governments trying to run things, but if we work together and combine them, then I think there would be less waste, and we would be more productive. I know it’s a long process to get it to happen, but we should at least consider to get it started.”

  • What are your thoughts about what occurred regarding the Inn at the Fall Creek Falls Park?

“Personally, I think that it was a mistake, but it was a decision by the governor. We will be getting a new governor next month, and we will need to be able to work with that person to help offset some of the impact that tearing down the Inn has had on local businesses. We need to get the word out that the park is still open for business. We need to get it out there in the newspaper and utilize social media.”

  • What is your opinion of the new wheel tax?

“I think we need to let citizens know what is going on. They are left out in the cold and don’t hear about it until it’s voted on. My opinion on the wheel tax is that it is the most fair way there is. But, I don’t agree with the way it was handled. I think it should have been to the public to vote on. Now there is no cap on it, so next year if they need more money, are they planning on raising the wheel tax higher?”

  • What about the $7 per month utility tax?

“I am not really for or against it. My thought is that we have this go-green company coming in that is suppose to buy our garbage to recycle into fuel, so I don’t understand why the community has to pay for that. If it was garbage pickup at home, I’d be all for it, and it would be totally worth it. But people like myself and others who recycle everything, they don’t have $7 dollars worth of garbage per month.”

  • What would your first goals be as mayor?

“The first year, I will be looking at the budget. Now, next year’s budget is already set, but I will be looking at ways to cut cost for future budgets. I want to look at how we get purchase items made here in America, as opposed to ordering from countries like Germany – like a pump motor that cost $50,000. If we can only get it from Germany, let’s sit down and think about the cost of redesigning the pump house and use a less expensive pump that we can get here in the United States and doesn’t take six months to get delivered.”

  • What qualifies you to be city mayor?

For the past four years, I have owned and run my own remodeling business. I know how to manage money well. I was the accountant / bookkeeper for the Van Buren County Highway department for four years. I worked on the budget all four years with the road superintendent. I am a real people person and think that we need a people person that can not only talk with people here but be able to communicate with people in office in Nashville.”

  • What are your thoughts about improving the Van Buren County Fair?

“The city and county officials have to come together and sit down with fair board.   We have to help them out one way or another. The county fair when I was growing up was the greatest thing. There was so much to do for the kids. You got to run around with your friends without any cares. We’ve got to work together to get that back, because my child is losing out on it. We have to drive to another county so that she can get to enjoy the things that I got to enjoy as a kid. The kids are our future, so let’s let them be kids for now and have something for them like the fair.   I know that there is money from both the city and county that can be put toward the fair, so let’s set aside some for the fair.

  • How should the mayor be involved with the school system?

“I think the city mayor needs to be involved and attend school board meetings to see where we can work together to make sure that the kids have what they need. We need a mayor that is involved with the schools, is my opinion”

  • As a leader, how do you bring together people of different backgrounds to work together?

“I don’t have a problem with people that weren’t born and raised here. Some people see that as an outsider. I do not. I feel you are a resident of Van Buren County just like I am. The only difference is that I spent my whole life here. I am glad that there are people who think enough of Spencer and Van Buren County and chose to move here and raise a family here. People that have moved here from other states have found a home here. We need to use that to our advantage.

“As for different religions and beliefs, we need to work together and unite. I don’t judge anyone. The good Lord judges me for what do. I try to live my life right for myself and my daughter. I want to be an example for her and other children. So, if we work together as all faiths and denominations and stick our hand out to those who aren’t of the Christian faith and let them know that we love them and want to work together, we can change things.”

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