A Few Thoughts On Local Government Structure In Walker County

Walker County Republicans will be asked a question: “Should the form of county government in Walker County be changed from a sole commissioner to a board of commissioners?”  It’s been an 800 pound gorilla since my stent as Walker County Republican Party chairman four years ago.

I’m still undecided, but I’m leaning towards no because 1.) either form of government won’t prevent poor government (if you elect crappy officials, you get crappy government) and 2.) the issue has become more about who occupies the office (and that’s what primaries are for) rather than debating the merits of both structures.

I say that seeing Murray County reverting back to a sole commission and Bartow County with a large population, and they’re actually doing pretty well from what I see.  Murray landed an inland port a few months ago, and Bartow seems to be doing pretty well.  I see the benefits of a sole commission.  A single negotiator and not having to deal with multiple agendas from multiple commissioners.

I also see the merits of multiple commissioners.  Different ideas from different areas of the county, and hopefully keeps a balance of power between the elected county officials….and then you see what’s going on in DeKalb County.

I see the sole vs. multi-member commission in a similar vein to term limits of congressmen: an instant cure-all for the ills of our government.  I’m sure that advocates say that they understand it’s not a silver bullet, at least, I hope so.  I have until the 24th to make up my mind, and I’m open to hearing pros and cons to both beyond “we don’t like the current officeholder.”

Walker County has major financial issues that will probably get worse before they get any better.  For instance, the ruling last week that said Hutcheson Medical Center owes Chattanooga-based Erlanger over $36 million.  Walker County taxpayers will be owing a portion of that, so I’m bracing for an increase in my property taxes.

We have two fresh faces on the Republican ballot for commissioner this year.  Personally, I believe one candidate has a pretty good understanding of our county’s problems and the other wants to blame our county’s Republican Party for his lackluster, single-issue (sole vs. multi-member commission) campaign.  The victor from that race will face our incumbent Republican-turned-Independent commissioner for the General Election.

I intend to vote Republican this fall.


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