Bebe Heiskell Running For 5th Term As Walker County Sole Commissioner, But This Time As An Independent

  • Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bebe Heiskell said Wednesday she plans to run for a fifth term as Walker County sole commissioner, but this time as an Independent.

Commissioner Heiskell, who first went into office in 2000, said, "I do support the Republican Party, but the Tea Party has taken over the Walker County Republican Party and its executive committee."

She said, "I haven't had a whole lot of luck with them. They want a more radically conservative candidate than I am."

Commissioner Heiskell said, "I think I've done an outstanding job with no money. Walker County is a poor county."

She said Catoosa County is along vibrant Interstate 75 and is getting much of the sales tax from Walker County residents. She said, "With Costco offering gas 30 cents cheaper, a lot of Walker County residents are going to Catoosa County to get their gas, and I don't blame them."

But she said that, and other factors, left Walker County $3 million short on needed revenue. She said that caused her to have to raise taxes 3 mil. She said, "That was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do."

She added, "This is no easy job. It's not a glamour job. It's real hard."

She said Walker County still has the lowest taxes around - except for Catoosa County.

Commissioner Heiskell said one of her key achievements is setting up an industrial park that drew a $50 million investment by the Audia plastics manufacturer. She said, "Audia was first going into the Rock Spring Industrial Park, then they decided to build an even larger facility, with a mirror plant, at our new site."

She said, to accommodate the major investment, the Walker County Industrial Development Authority had to do a bond issue costing 1 mil. She said it was necessary "because we still had cows where they were wanting to put part of the plant."

Commissioner Heiskell said the industrial park has brought almost 1,000 new jobs to Walker County, and she said two new plants are looking at locating there.

She said she still believes that Walker County should not have to make good on a $10 million commitment toward a $20 million investment by Erlanger Health System at Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe.

She said she had concerns about Erlanger getting involved at Hutcheson "because of what they had done with hospitals at Pikeville, Sequatchie Valley and Red Bank. I thought they just wanted to make Hutcheson a feeder hospital for them."

She said she went along with the Erlanger management "because everybody wanted to save the hospital."

Commissioner Heiskell claims that Erlanger "made a lot of promises that they did not fulfill. And they never would write down what they were promising."

She said Erlanger pledged "a new roof, a new heat and air system, a new billing system and to bring in 15 doctors. Not one of those things ever happened."

She stated, "I want to take the stand and testify about that in the court case."

Commissioner Heiskell said there was much talk earlier about doing away with the sole commissioner, "but I haven't heard much about that lately. I think one of the other candidates is not for that."

Shannon Whitfield and Mike Peardon have qualified to run for commissioner as Republicans.

The qualifying deadline is Friday for Democrats and Republicans.

Commissioner Heiskell said she understands that she does not have to qualify at this time due to running as an Independent.

However, she said, "I plan to go to the election office this week and I will do whatever they tell me I need to do."

Commissioner Heiskell said she is 76, but members of her family "have long lives. Our bodies wear out before our minds wear out. My mind is still very sharp."



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