In the upcoming elections for Dickson City Council seats, only two of the races are contested.
In the election for the city’s first ward, incumbent Betty Lou Alsobrooks, who has held the position since 2010, will be up against Larry Hillis. In the fourth ward election, incumbent Dwight Haynes, who was elected in 2007, will be up against Butch Bagsby. Haynes did not respond to this questionnaire.
The races for the second and third wards are uncontested.
The Dickson Post asked all the candidates of contested races to answer a few questions.
Where are you from and how long have you lived in Dickson?
Alsobrooks: I came to Dickson at the age of 4 where my mother’s family roots were established, and I have lived here ever since.
Hillis: I have been a resident at 228 Old Columbia Road in Dickson for over 30 years and was one of the first homeowners in the Eastwood subdivision located in Dickson’s First Ward. I met my wife, RaAnn, while serving in the U.S. Army at Ft. Campbell almost forty years ago.
Bagsby: I am a lifelong resident of Dickson County.
What made you decide to run for city council?
Alsobrooks: I am actually running for re-election, and for the same reason I initially ran. I wanted to make a positive difference first hand in the decision-making process, and to proactively make Dickson a better place to live – both now and in the future.
Hillis: I have spent over 45 years in public service at the federal, state, and local level receiving a majority of my post-secondary education in public policy and public administration. The call to public service was among my first instincts as I entered the work force over 45 years ago. I decided to run this year for the city council out of a desire to give back to my local community. Few callings in life can be more fulfilling than to be involved in the public affairs of the community where I live. I have the time, energy, and necessary experiences to be an involved and engaged council member who will pride myself on being present at all the council meetings, committee meeting, and other meeting of community interest.
Bagsby: I decided to run for city council because although the city is doing well, there are opportunities that are being overlooked. Buckner Park at one time was a good facility, but after years of neglect, it has become rundown. I think it is important that our kids have good facilities to play at. These facilities have not been upgraded in over 40 years.
What past jobs and positions have you held that have prepared you for this position?
Alsobrooks: I taught in the Dickson County School System for 32 years and in the city all of those years. In addition to acquiring “people skills” I was made aware of many of the community needs. I am now a Realtor and work with people in Dickson, as well as new folks moving in. Through these interactions, I am constantly “selling our town” and the attributes that make it a place they would want to call home. My experience on the Council has been my best preparation. It has been both exciting and gratifying to know I am trying to make a difference. And I believe I am.
Hillis: I have decades of experience in elected, appointed, and commissioned public offices at the federal, state, and county levels. I have experience at all levels of public administration from engaging stakeholders to designing public initiatives, policy implementation, budgeting, personnel decisions to include evaluating performance, and program compliance to determine program effectiveness through feedback studies deciding if adjustments or changes were in order to meet program objectives. Locally, I was involved for many years in all aspects of operating the Dickson County School System as a publicly elected school board member. I was a past Chair of the School Finance Committee and a member of the Transportation Committee, Secondary Education Committee, Policy Committee, Maintenance Committee, and was the school board’s representative to the State Department of Education. As a member of the Dickson County Planning Commission, I was, as a commissioner, part of the approving authority of all matters involving zoning issues in the unincorporated areas of Dickson County. In my 40-year military career of active and reserve component service, I was involved in all aspects of personnel, operations, mission orientated goals.
Bagsby: I graduated from DCHS, attended Roane State and graduated from Birmingham Southern College with a BS in management. I have worked for PepsiCo for 27 years.
What is the biggest challenge for the City of Dickson right now? How will you address it?
Alsobrooks: Without a doubt, I think the biggest challenge that we face is providing a quality of life that will bring new people into our city and who will see Dickson as a place where they will want to live, work, and raise a family. Providing more green space for recreation and a downtown where people can feel safe walking, dining, and shopping is a must and our city is going in that direction.
Hillis: City government must evolve and change to face the challenges of growth. Business as usual and reacting to congested traffic concerns is a huge headache as traffic volume increases on many of the main transportation arteries in and about the city to include the very busy Hwy 46 corridor toward the I-40 connector. Emphasis on alternate routes around congested thoroughfares must be aggressively pursued. The study of traffic light synchronization along state Highway 46 needs to remain at the top of the agenda. Any new development along highway 46 and other city points of congestion will need discussion on traffic impact. Dickson is a regional hub for commerce and as a sales tax-oriented city commerce development must be encouraged and viewed in terms of the livability of those of us calling the city home. Changing of council members is a way to bring new experiences on board to offer different perspectives and different approaches in engaging First Ward residents, other local officials, state officials, developers, and commercial owners. Taxes as low as possible are a must. Striking a balance between livability, the ability to make a living, and means of obtaining the necessities of life should be the goal of the city.
Bagsby: I think traffic is a big issue, as we continue to grow, we need to be forward thinking instead of reacting after the fact. Traffic lights should have already been synced for flow of traffic. We need to look at road expansion and alternative routing through the city.
What’s the best way for Dickson to handle the incoming growth from Nashville?
Alsobrooks: To have a city ready to handle any type of growth requires planning that accommodates the present and looks constantly to the future. With the acquisition of the new Henslee Park, the city has added an additional 126 acres that currently provide walking and biking trails with plans for additional recreational facilities. By joining with state and federal funding, the Historic Downtown District began in 2009 and has developed into a destination for residents and visitors alike to take part in a variety of experiences.
Hillis: It is absolutely essential for a council member to stay personally engaged with all levels of government, local residents, developers, and commercial property owners to not miss a beat in affecting the outcome of continued local growth. As a council member, I will aggressively pursue developing working relationships with the local state legislative delegation and state and federal officials to seek out every opportunity to make Dickson’s needs known to the governor directly and to the members of his cabinet. I will never pass up an occasion to create opportunities for state officials to visit Dickson and see over and over again the local city challenges of growth. Working closely with the state and surrounding counties and cities to advance the needs of Dickson is critical in solving local growth related issues.
Bagsby: (No response)
Election day: Thursday, Sept. 26
Last day to register to vote: Tuesday, Aug. 27
Early voting: From Friday, Sept. 6, through Saturday, Sept. 21 at Restoration Church, 503 Henslee Dr. in Dickson