By MARINA WATERS
When Bill Graham drives through Downtown Jonesborough, he sees the town he wants to support and the people he’s hoping to work for as a Jonesborough Alderman.
“When I drive my truck through this town,” Graham said, “I look around and I know I want to work hard for these people. I want to do it for the people.”
Although Graham wasn’t so sure a couple of years ago when his wife wanted to move from Gray to Jonesborough, his love for Tennessee’s oldest town has grown to the point he’s running against three challengers and two incumbents for one of the two alderman seats.
“My wife is from Jonesborough,” Graham said. “We moved to Gray for a couple of years, but then she brought me here kicking and screaming. I did not want to come here at first, but when I got here I looked around and said, ‘Hey, this is a really great place.”
Graham is a local businessman who works in relocation after owning his own business for 10 years. He sold the company just a few years after the 2008 recession. That time period is one that he said taught him a valuable life lesson.
“I learned that you’ve got to keep things in perspective,” Graham said. “You cannot ever let your ego take place of logic. A bad decision affects many and a good decision affects many. You’ve always got to have a plan for everything.”
For Graham, that certainly applies to Jonesborough.
His plan, should he be elected, is to research all aspects of the town, from wastewater services to downtown events, in order to know all there is to know about any given topic.
“Now, if you want to talk about the water department, I’m going to do a lot of research first, but I’m going to come back and give you my opinion on it,” Graham said. “If you want to talk about public safety, I’m going to do research and tell you what I think. If someone asks my opinion on something, I’ll give it.”
When asked what he would most like to focus on in Jonesborough, Graham said he would like to help bring Jonesborough Days to its former glory.
“I would like to see Jonesborough Days get even better,” he said. “It has lost its luster a little bit. I would like to see a Battle of the Bands sort of thing with a lot of local music. Jonesborough does a great job with its events. I’d like to see a couple more added.”
He also wants to do all he can to support local law enforcement and the fire department or “the blue” and “the red.”
“Those people are second to none,” Graham said. “We’ve got to protect the blue. Those people in blue and red are so important. People may say what they want about them, but when you’re in trouble, who do you think is going to be there? I want to do everything I can to support them. I think they do a great job.”
Graham also said he is continually impressed with the town’s services that make Jonesborough a great place to live.
“It’s amazing. I saw a neighbor of mine had cleaned his yard and put some limbs on the side of the road on like a Monday maybe,” Graham said. “Within a couple days it was gone. They had already picked it up. So I decided I’d try it out. I put some limbs and debris on the side of the road on a Sunday or maybe a Monday afternoon. By Tuesday and Wednesday I thought, ‘Well I’ll probably have to take care of that and haul it off myself.’ By Friday it was gone. That doesn’t happen everywhere.”
Graham is also hoping he will get to add a fresh perspective to the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
“I might bring something different,” Graham said. “My mother-in-law makes really good tuna salad. But my wife started making tuna salad and I said, ‘Your mom’s tuna salad is good, but yours is really great.’ That’s how I look at this. You can have something that’s good but something new might be really good.”
But when he considers why he’s running for alderman in the town he loves, it all goes back to those friendly people in the “special” town of Jonesborough.
“People wave at you. You go anywhere and they wave at you,” Graham said. “You go to take the trash out and they’re waving at you. That doesn’t happen everywhere. People are just nice here. I want to keep Jonesborough special because it is. It’s a real special place.”