As part of what has become a three-way primary race for the District 7 County Commission seat, Republican candidates Perry Perkins, Phil Smartt, and Sabrena Turner on Monday spoke and answered questions from the Pachyderm Club about everything from pot holes in county roads to annexation.
Perry Perkins said he believes the main three issues his district faces are schools, growth and public safety. He said, "We want to have a highly educated workforce."
He said if elected, he will "reach out to our Chamber of Commerce and to our business leaders so we can bring in good paying jobs to our community."
He also said he wants to "make sure our streets are safe."
A lifelong Hamilton County resident, he said, "I have not spent my life working in a party, I've spent my life working in the community."
As a small business owner, he said, "I would make sure I'm a good steward of your money."
Phil Smartt opened by saying, "I am the most qualified." He told the audience that his family has been members of the Republican Party since the Civil War and that he has been endorsed by House Majority Leader Gerald McCormack. He said, "They have endorsed me because they believe that these are good candidates, but that I am the best for the job."
He said, "You need someone on that commission who understands public education."
When asked which three issues he thought were the most important in his district, he said education, growth and security. He said, "When growth in the county revenues gets higher, taxes stay lower."
He said another important issue to him is annexation, which he said he said he has always opposed.
Sabrena Turner told the club, "I'm proud to say I've never voted Democrat, I've never supported a Democrat, and I've never given money to a Democrat."
The three are seeking to take the seat now held by Republican Larry Henry, who is running for Circuit Court clerk.
She said because Hamilton County is projected to have approximately 360,000 residents by 2018, "It is imperative that we elect a representative that understands growth."
She said, "As a realtor and a business owner, I understand what it takes to attract businesses," and she called herself "extremely fiscally conservative."
When asked which three issues she thought are most important in District 7, she said the issue of annexation, the need of a new middle school, and improving the roads. As for annexation, she said, "I have fought on the front lines." She said she had been a part of over 12 lawsuits to keep the area from becoming annexed. She said, "To fight is different than to oppose."
The candidates all took questions from the audience. When asked why they believe city residents would be opposed to annexation, they all agreed that often, those residents had no choice in the matter.
Mr. Perkins said, "I don't think there's anybody who wants to have anything forced down their throat," and Mr. Smartt called it "un-American." Mr. Smartt also said it increased their taxes. Mrs. Turner said, "City residents feel their services are being diluted."