Roy Exum: Perry Perkins’ Persistence

Sunday, April 13, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Of this I am sure: no one who is currently running for office can out-work Perry Perkins. He started last December – “What election?” he would be asked and he responded with a grin and a handshake. As of yesterday this Energizer of a bunny has personally knocked on over 1,500 doors and shaken even more hands. Mind you, that is through yesterday afternoon. In his compelling quest to become a Hamilton County Commissioner, he leaves his house at 6 a.m., doesn’t get home until after 9 at night, and can rival Delta Air Lines for the stops he makes in one day.

“I want to win the District 7 race,” he told me Saturday morning, “but the only way I can handle losing is if I can ask myself, ‘Did you do your absolute best?’ Right now I can tell you I’m trying as hard as I know how and I’m having more fun doing it than I ever dreamed.”

Of all the candidates in the mid-term elections, not one has the sparkle, the drive, the commitment or the energy the 56-year old has put on display, whether waving at cars from a street corner to drivers in his district on their way home or visiting every ball field in East Brainerd. The guy could teach a college graduate course in how to meet people, but it is the day-to-day grind that will begin to pay on Wednesday. That’s when the early voting begins for the May 6 primary.

Asked the best thing he has learned about politics, Perry replied easily, “Listening to people, letting them know you are hearing what they are saying, and promising them you’ll do the right thing. It may not be exactly what some want, but their input is every bit as important to me as my closest supporter. I have no agenda, no allegiance or any other goal than to represent District 7 in a way that I believe will serve our area, and all of Hamilton County, in the best way humanly possible.”

What’s the worst thing about politics? “That’s easy -- talking about yourself!’’ he struggled to shake a wry smile of his face. “I’ve never bragged in my life and I’m still struggling with it. I was raised, and have been taught my entire life, that you do things that matter in the best way you know how but don’t crow about it.

“If an aging widow needs her porch fixed, or somebody who is sick needs their yard mowed, you do it and hope nobody finds out. I’ve been a ‘giver’ my entire life and suddenly having to tell people about it – so they’ll know the type of person I am – is something I really don’t like to do,” he admitted. “I am proud of my life but I’d rather talk about a way to help kids, how wonderful my wife is, or dream up a new project,” he laughed as I kidded him about his best friend and wife of 20 years, Monica.

Perry’s accomplishments, going back to coaching his sister’s softball team at age 15 “because there was no one else to do it,” are spectacular. In addition to owning a thriving painting company, he was a highly-commended reserve police officer for over 20 years, has been involved in an endless list of civic duties, is a popular clown as a Shriner, serves on the board of the famed Shriner Burn Hospital in Kentucky, and is widely known as a “never say no” community activist.

The popular Perkins all but ran the popular DARE program to help kids avoid drug abuse, has raised hundreds of thousands for various projects but is as humble and gracious as anybody you ever saw. “I get a thrill out of getting things done. I love to look for what needs help and try to fix it … I just don’t want to have to talk about it afterwards. I’m terrible at bragging,” again he laughed at himself.

Asked his greatest political strength, Perry’s mind raced all the way back to Tyner when he first served on the student council. “I love to sit down with people, have a spirited conversation, and make something great happen. I always have a plan I think is best, but when you listen to everybody and realize they are smart too or they wouldn’t be there, being able to adapt your solution with other ideas is how really great results happen.

“I’ve thought about what it would be like to serve on the County Commission, to sit in a room with like-minded people and do the right things that will make Hamilton County be better. That’s a huge thing. It is a great responsibility but it would be my biggest honor. I’m working hard to have that chance.”

Is he ever, his seven-day per week gauntlet only stopping for Sunday church. “When I got out of high school I couldn’t afford college so I went to work as hard as I knew how. I volunteered to help first offenders with counseling at the Juvenile Court and quickly realized that in order to be the best, I needed more education,” he told me. “Nine years after I got out of Tyner I earned my degree in criminal justice at UTC. It was hard. I paid every penny. And I wouldn’t take a million dollars for what I earned.”

Where does the energy come from? “I think we owe it to ourselves to do things the right way and I am driven by the feeling that comes when you see the look in a child’s eyes or sense you have somehow made a difference. I’ve been a clown in the Shrine for over 20 years and, when I get ‘my face’ on, people don’t recognize me. When I make them laugh or be happy, they don’t know it was me after I change back into street clothes. That’s a thrill in itself.

“I heard somebody say once that when you don’t care who gets the credit, big things begin to happen,” said Perry. “I believe I’m the best candidate in District 7 and have some ideas about bettering our schools, getting a modern streets plan in our district that the whole community will enjoy, and being an integral part of a newly-seated County Commission that serves the people,” he said. “I’m a giver. When I can do that, I can make a difference.”

Trust me on this - Perry Perkins is the brightest face in the 2014 election. Imagine what he can do on the Hamilton County Commission. Wow!

royexum@aol.com



Too Many NFL Players Take Their On-Field Aggression Off The Field

Bone snapping. Hard hitting. Violence. We all love to watch it. We love the adrenaline that football gives us. Most Americans have their own team that they love to cheer on and win football games. We get so carried away watching the violence that we don’t seem to see the big picture. We watch the violence on the field, but what we don’t see is the violence that football players ... (click for more)

Remembering Ed Temple And TSU's Legacy

Many Chattanooga alumni, former students and members of the Tennessee State University community were saddened to receive the following information from our Alma Mater that legendary track and field coach Ed Temple has finished the great race we call life. Perhaps no other individual, with the exception of Jesse Owens, contributed more to the success of U.S. Olympic track and ... (click for more)

DA Pinkston Files Petition To Declare 2 Gangs A Public Nuisance

District Attorney General Neal Pinkston filed a petition on Monday asking that two Chattanooga gangs, the Gangster Disciples and the Grape Street Crips, and their members be declared public nuisances. General Pinkston is also "asking that injunctive relief be given to the law-abiding residents of East Lake by establishing a Safety Zone that covers most of their neighborhood." ... (click for more)

2 Boaters Die In Suspected Carbon Monoxide Poisoning On Chickamauga Lake

Two boaters and their pet were pronounced dead at the scene of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning on Chickamauga Lake.  Kristy D. James and Mike L. Richardson of Chattanooga were reported missing to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office earlier in the day by a concerned family member. The boaters had not been heard from since Saturday. Tennessee Wildlife Resources ... (click for more)

Vols' Dobbs, Barnett Grab SEC Player of Week Honors

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs is the SEC Offensive Player of the Week and end Derek Barnett the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week. This week's honor marks the first time this season that a Vol has earned SEC Offensive Player of the Week. Dobbs was the last UT player to win the award in Week 6 of 2015 following his performance in the Vols' ... (click for more)

Craine, Ribeiro Named SoCon Players Of The Week

Two University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football student-athletes were named Southern Conference Players of the Week, following the Mocs' 41-21 win over Samford on Saturday.  Seniors Derrick Craine and Henrique Ribeiro both earned recognition from the league office announced today. Craine rushed for a career-high 222 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns in the win. ... (click for more)