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Letters to the Editor – Election

‘Low tax rate’ claim is not accurate

In reference to Kelly Wolfe’s query on his re-election campaign propaganda, “How have we kept Jonesborough’s property tax rate so low?” The answer is simple.  The tax rates to which Jonesborough’s property tax rate is being compared belong to municipalities which operate a school system, with the exception of Erwin. It makes good press, but the fact is, he’s trying to deceive us by comparing apples to oranges. Johnson City, Washington County, Unicoi County, and Elizabethton all operate school systems.
Operating a school system costs a municipality on the average from 40 cents to 60 cents of the property tax dollar.  Without that cost, Jonesborough should be able to provide all town services at a rate of $ .79 (assuming 40 percent to pay for a school system).  So in fact, based on the level of services provided, Jonesborough’s $1.31 is one of the highest tax rates in the region!
On another topic, Jonesborough now has the highest water and sewer rates in all East Tennessee, including Knoxville. So the question is:  How have our town leaders kept Jonesborough’s water and sewer rates so high?  Here’s how:  These are the rate and fee increases during Wolfe’s time in office as published in the Herald and Tribune and the Johnson City Press—July 2009 water bill and rate increase; July 2010 water and sewer rate increase; August 2011 property tax hike; September 2011 waste fee hike; July 2014 water and sewer rate increase; July 2014 property tax hike; July 2016 waste fee hike.
We cannot afford two more years of Kelly Wolfe.  Perhaps you don’t know Charlie Moore, but as mayor you can depend on him to be honest, forward-thinking, yet fair and fiscally-responsible; and he has no conflicts of interest.
Sam Mitchell

Former mayor weighs in at election
As a former Mayor and Alderman in Jonesborough, I find the same old over-spending rhetoric from Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe’s opposition to be the only thing you can say when you have no vision and no clue how your community can grow and improve. I heard it during my terms as mayor, Jimmy Neil Smith heard the same thing and so did Kevin McKinney during his nine years s your mayor. Yet, despite the nay-sayers, Jonesborough has experienced amazing growth and our quality of life is the envy of the region. The changes have not been dramatic, but also have been successful and long lasting. The projects and programs we initiated under Jimmy Neil Smith’s leadership like the Town Hall, Visitors Center and Library are still an essential part of our community.
Charlie Moore’s vision is to sell Wetlands Water Park and the Jackson Theatre. He is clueless to the fact that the Town would have to repay all the grant money in the pool or build another one. It is the most cost-effective municipal aquatics facility in the region and many years it has actually generated a profit. By my calculations, Kelly Wolfe has obtained over a million dollars in grants and donations to support the Jackson Theatre Project, How is Charlie Moore going to pay the back? And he obviously doesn’t know that downtown theatre renovation projects are major economic engines in the communities like Franklin, Crossville and Harriman.
Kelly Wolfe and his administration has done a tremendous job on building facilities and programs to enhance the quality of life of all residents. It is amazing what has been accomplished, and we still have one of the lowest tax trees in the region. He is an excellent leader and deserves the support of the Jonesborough residents.
Tobie Bledsoe
Former Mayor Jonesborough

Gutter attack reveals lack of positive plan
I feel compelled to offer a couple of observations on the Jonesborough Mayor’s race based on some recent misleading anonymous calls and downright nasty mailers done on behalf of candidate Charlie Moore. Evidently Mr. Moore and his friends have decided to operate from the gutter because they lack the kind of motivating positive agenda everyone should desire and expect from their elected local leaders.
Kelly and his wife Jennifer should be commended, not criticized, for their many contributions to our community.  They recently gave the money and performed most of the work needed to move the JAMA Food Pantry into its new home at Persimmon Ridge Park. There is no better expression of love for others than helping to feed a neighbor.
The Wolfes also recently pledged a sizeable contribution to help buy a building and give it to the town as part of the Jackson Theatre project.  Once open, the Jackson will be a big driver of Jonesborough’s tourism economy and will be an important way to help downtown businesses thrive in the evenings during the week.
And now, with the latest bit of mud being thrown, Charlie Moore and his band of bullies are trying to say that the donation of a vacant building to our local fire department for training purposes is somehow an abuse of power by our mayor.  Where has Charlie Moore been for the last eight years?  What has he done that was good for our community?
Do the people of Jonesborough really want someone with such a negative perspective as their leader?
I think not and hope the people of Jonesborough will join me and my family in promoting a positive, hopeful vision for our town by voting to re-elect Mayor Kelly Wolfe on November 8th.
Josh Conger

Mayor Wolfe’s results speak for themselves
For more than 40 years, I have worked in the journalism field and am now retired. Fifteen of those years were spent in Jonesborough, where I served as the publisher of the Herald & Tribune, Washington County and Jonesborough’s local paper.
During that time, I had the opportunity to see Mayor Kelly Wolfe at work. When he came into office eight years ago, he had many difficult issues facing him. But he did what he does best: he built a strong team, rolled up his sleeves and got to work, pouring countless hours into the town he so loves.
Now the results speak for themselves.
Once there was raw sewage in the creek. He fixed that problem.
Year after year, downtown businesses were flooded, causing stores to go out of business and no one wanting to locate there. That has ended.
Our newspaper had continuous coverage of the “big dig” downtown, following Mayor Wolfe as he led a team in a massive project that replaced water, power and sewer simultaneously.
It was a tough time for the town, but the result is a thriving, vibrant downtown, the birth of the Main Street Jonesborough program, and the emergence of a bustling venue for festivals and events which boosts traffic and tourism, and feeds the local economy.
Time after time, Mayor Kelly Wolfe has met obstacles and problems head-on with a positive determination and a remarkable work ethic.
As the publisher of the H&T, Mayor Wolfe and I had many frank discussions, and at times, we had to talk about some difficult issues. We didn’t always agree. But unlike many “politicians,” he was always responsive, and he answered our questions in an honest, forthright manner. His integrity is beyond reproach — certainly a rare commodity in our current political environment.
The many relationships Mayor Wolfe has developed on behalf of Jonesborough — locally, regionally and nationally — will serve the town in a positive way for many years to come.
Because of his strong leadership, the community is now looked to as an example of municipal excellence and envied because of so many things done so well.
Few towns in America have the quality of leadership Jonesborough currently enjoys.
So, for those of you who love your community, please vote for the one person who shares your passion and your dreams, who knows how to provide positive leadership, and who will work tirelessly for the town’s continued success — Mayor Kelly Wolfe.
Lynn Richardson

Alderman Dickson has shown ability to lead
I attend many Board of Mayor and Alderman meetings.  I have observed Adam as he represents all the citizens of Jonesborough.
I have noted that he was never absent. He is a team player, who wants to see Jonesborough continue to develop into a community that represents all the people, respond to the people’s needs, and be economically strong.
With Adam’s participation as an alderman, he understands that much of our growth comes from the source of sales taxes.
Therefore, he has promoted plans that attract tourism and businesses that will achieve those goals. Yet, he is sensitive to all the citizens needs and will voice his opinion to respond in their interest.
Ed Wolff

Current board is moving town in right direction
I have been a resident of Jonesborough for over 50 years. I have seen a lot of projects started and completed, but in the last few years there has been so much accomplished.
Our downtown is beautiful and I am amazed at the crowds that are on the streets especially on weekends.
I am looking forward to the Jackson Theatre being renovated. That is where I took my wife on our first date many years ago. It would be nice to take her on a date there again!
The projects that are started need to be completed and with the leadership of the Board that has Jonesborough’s interest at heart, these projects can be accomplished.
We need to continue in a positive direction that the Town is going and with the leadership of Mayor Kelly Wolfe, Alderman Terry Countermine, Alderman Adam Dickson, Alderman David Sell, and Alderman Chuck Vest, we can accomplish these goals.
All are good people – their hearts are for Jonesborough!
Please vote to keep our Town moving forward – VOTE FOR A POSITIVE TEAM FOR JONESBOROUGH – Wolfe, Countermine and Dickson.
Charles Causey

Close to source: Letter advocates Wolfe for Mayor
The upcoming Jonesborough municipal election is an important one and the tone and motives of who represents us really matters.
While not officially involved in town government, as the wife of the mayor, I am sure everyone will understand that I feel just as invested as Kelly in the success of our town.
We are privileged to live in such a wonderful place. Kelly and I have raised our daughters here and we enjoy contributing to and being an active part of the thriving Jonesborough community.
I am very troubled by the negative statements from Mr. Moore and many of those involved with his campaign.
It is telling that Mr. Moore has failed to offer any positive vision for Jonesborough. His campaign and its supporters promote negative, personal attacks that are just untrue.
I hope the voters will think past these attacks to the type of leadership we will be left with after the election should Mr. Moore be successful.
You do not have to agree with someone one hundred percent of the time to be able to appreciate his intentions.
Kelly is very passionate about promoting our town and has done an excellent job staying positive and productive with his agenda while in office, and our town is much better off for it.
It goes without saying, but I wholeheartedly endorse the great progress we have made over the last eight years with my husband, Mayor Kelly Wolfe.
We would both appreciate the opportunity to remain a part of the team that continues to make Jonesborough even better.
Jennifer Wolfe

First-hand facts help set the record straight
It’s a real shame that today’s desperate national political Washington-style politics are being adopted in our Town, with more mud and far less facts thrown about willy-nilly on anonymous fliers and mailers.
I’d like to take a minute to help wipe a bit of the rhetorical mud off and set the record straight about where our town is today by citing simple facts — truths anyone can go look up for themselves with just a few minutes in front of the keyboard.
I attend most every board meeting so I know these things firsthand.
Fact number one: Jonesborough features the lowest property tax rate in the region for a city or town offering municipal services. At a $1.31 per $100 of assessed value, Jonesborough’s tax rate is .57 cents cheaper than Johnson City, without all the traffic. Even cheaper than Erwin at $1.41.
How’d that happen, you ask? Because sales tax revenue has grown 56 percent in the last eight years, while residential and commercial construction has grown property tax collections by 46 percent in that same time frame!
So what did our current Board of Mayor and Aldermen do with the money?
Unlike Washington D.C.politicians, they actually put the money to work providing services. Like 35 percent of our streets in town being repaved! Like making the corner of Fox and Main Streets into an attractive entryway into our town. Like adding additional walking and running space for local citizens to use. Like the addition of a historic train station to boost tourism.
Let’s keep our team in place, vote Wolfe for Mayor and Countermine and Dickson for Aldermen on November 6.
Ruth Verhegge