Dennis Norwood: Show Me The Negative

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - by Dennis Norwood
Dennis Norwood
Dennis Norwood

You’ll forgive me if I seemed a bit puzzled. While I have never run or managed a campaign before I have had a bit of experience recognizing negative things in my life and for the life of me I can’t find anything falling into that category regarding Vince Dean’s campaign against Gwen Tidwell for the position of Criminal Court Clerk.

Apparently Mr. Jim Hall has. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Hall, but in this instance I must respectfully disagree with his findings. I am familiar with Ms. Tidwell, as well. As a matter of fact, we are Facebook friends and have, on one or two occasions, commented as to how we would offer prayers for one another.

Now, on the other hand, Vince is a “real life” friend. I’ve known him since my days as the Information Center Manager at the Chattanooga Police Department and he was a Sergeant, serving as a supervisor and administrative assistant to one of the Deputy Chiefs. His knowledge was extensive and very valuable to me and he shared it freely. I was extremely grateful for his mentorship.

One of the very first things I learned about Vince was that he was nothing if not honest. This was followed in an instant by learning that he was a wonderful Christian man. More on that in a bit.

Mr. Hall has asserted that Vince has put out distortions and half-truths. As I’ve listened to both sides of this hotly contested race, I’ve heard neither from Vince. Knowing the way he was raised by his mama and daddy, I doubt sincerely he is capable of doing either. At this point let me say that I won’t even attempt to impugn Gwen’s reputation. By all accounts I’m sure she is an honorable person, as well.

However, while character is important, it is about the ability to accomplish the task at hand that I’m concerned with. Yes, Ms. Tidwell has experience in the job, but there appear to be aspects of the role where she has fallen short. These occasions have caused reporting requirements to have been ignored and monies owed to the office to have gone uncollected.

Vince will work diligently to ensure those shortfalls never happen on his watch. Ms. Tidwell’s supporters have tried to paint the picture that a law degree is necessary to hold this position. That would appear to be a distortion of the truth to me. Especially when one learns that only two Criminal Court clerks in the entire state of Tennessee are attorneys. This is a management position – period.

Mr. Hall would have you believe that Vince falls short in this area. However, Vince has quite a bit of management experience. Let’s go back to his career at CPD where he supervised, at one point, over 60 officers. He also had input into budgets for manpower, equipment and shift schedules. How about his time on the East Ridge City Council and later as Mayor? Again, his hallmark was balanced budgets and the respect of citizens, fellow council members and city employees.

His time in the State Legislature has also been marked with the respect of his constituents and fellow representatives and senators. He has been responsible for appropriating funds and bringing legislation about that has bettered not only his district, but the entire state of Tennessee. Management experience? Yes, I’d say he is more than qualified.

And talk about dealing with people? Only a police officer knows what it’s like to deal with folks when they are at a point – whether it’s a speeding ticket or worse – that may not be the high point of their day. Vince has that in his favor, as well.

When I was in the Air Force and an NCO that was tasked with leading people and managing offices, I was oft-times called on to take over an office or project that I had never been familiar with before. When you have been given the training and have management and leadership experience you can, with minimal time in the new position, soon find yourself, and your office, running on all cylinders. Vince’s career and experience ensure that this will be the case for him leading the Criminal Court Clerk’s office.

 Vince Dean has proven his mettle as a public servant. I know first-hand that Mr. Hall’s assertion that Vince merely “wants to return home from Nashville” has no truth to it at all. As a matter of fact, his statement rather smacks of negativity and meanness. Sort of like one who “doesn’t have any facts to stand on.”

 Oh, that bit on “more about this in a bit?” What I feel should be pointed out about Vince is that every time he has to make a decision, his first action is to hit his knees and go to his Lord and pray about it. I know, with the so-called separation of church and state this probably shouldn’t be a deciding factor in an election. Well, while this might put some of you off, and I get that, but, let’s face it, for many of us it is an important factor.

 It’s time for a change in the Criminal Court clerk’s office. It’s time for Vince Dean.

 (Dennis Norwood can be reached at or followed on Twitter at DennisENorwood. The views expressed herein are fully his own and not the opinion of The

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