By ALLEN RAU
Three candidates have joined the Town of Jonesborough’s latest edition of alderman musical chairs. There will be two “chairs” available for the three entrants, although current Alderman David Sell is not one of the challengers.
“The main reason is my business,” Sell said about his decision not to seek re-election. “We’ve been in business over 20 years and we’re phasing out the ACE Hardware and we’re going to be doing locksmith service and work, commercial, residential and automotive.”
Those seeking a seat on the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen include Virginia Causey, who temporarily filled the vacancy left when Chuck Vest was appointed mayor; Stephen Callahan, proprietor of the Tennessee Hills Distillery; and Charlie B. Moore. The election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
“The climate’s changed in the past 10 years, with the box stores and the internet and all that,” as Sell explained his planned departure from the board. “It’s really put a damper on things. We’re moving from this location (on Jackson Boulevard) to next door where the old service station was (across Jackson Blvd from the Justice Center). We’re remodeling it and our locksmith business is going in that building. My business is changing … I guess you could say I’m kind of starting all over. It’s going to take a lot of time to get this thing done. And my time is very limited. We’ve gotten some out of state contracts. I’ll be on the road quite a bit.”
Sell added that he would have considered running again had his business not required a change.
“It’s in good hands with Chuck (Vest), the new mayor,” he said. “He’s a good leader and he’s been on there a long time. He knows what’s going on. So it’ll be left in good hands. They’ve got a good board.”
He also had some advice for those seeking public office.
“Run for the right reasons. Don’t have an agenda. That was the same advice that was given to me when I ran. Run to be able to serve the people. That’s what it’s all about.
“If you’ve got an axe to grind, with a department, or a person that works for the town, and you’re going to run, that’s not the right reason.”
As a temporary alderman filling Mayor Vest’s former seat, Virginia Causey has some knowledge about the position, but also believes her background helped prepare her for the seat.
“I was Executive Assistant for the Town Administrator. I worked for the town for almost 40 years. During that time I worked with Mr. (Bob) Browning, who worked directly with the Board. And I feel like when they asked me if I would fill the vacant position, my husband and I talked about it and he said, ‘You want to get in there and see what you think’.
“Well, I feel in my heart that I can help the town because I know a lot of what has been the process for years. It’s not like I’m coming in blind-sided on how to handle a board meeting.”
The temporary alderman said that continuing the current path of progression appealed to her.
“I would like to see the town keep progressing. We have progressed so much in the past 10 years. And we have so many people coming to town now. I’d like to see that continue.”
Causey concluded that her experience as a town employee would be beneficial.
“I love the town. I love the people. I love the employees. And I do feel that I would be an asset for the employees because I was an employee and I know what it’s like.”
Stephen Callahan, who opened Tennessee Hills Distillery less than five years ago, said that a younger voice on the BMA would add another dimension.
“Having somebody that the younger generation could come and talk to and relate to and not be afraid to bring new business into town.
“We need to attract the younger crowd … (for me) to be a sounding board for them. I think that’s going to be a huge asset to the BMA. That’s something that I could relay to the other Board members and kind of be a spokesman.”
Callahan added that his business has given him the knowledge he believes necessary.
“I own a business and I know how to manage money. I didn’t major in finances or accounting, but I also went to school and I own a pretty profitable business here in downtown.”
The spirit brewer believes that Jonesborough’s last 10 years of progress provided the necessary environment for a successful small business such as his own.
“I definitely want to keep us from going back 10 years. I want to keep the things that people have done here in recent years … that’s the reason I’m here in town.
Callahan said he would be the model candidate for small businesses.
“The best thing I can do is basically be a spokesman for the small business people here in town.”
The final candidate, Charlie B. Moore, has been employed at the Tennessee Department of Transportation for eight years.
Moore is a former Alderman and said he would like to be involved with the town again.
“I love being a part of the decision making for the town of Jonesborough, and as everybody knows Jonesborough is growing by leaps and bounds and I think we’ve got a lot to offer people, but we’ve probably got a little growing pains right now I believe. But that’s a good thing.
“I like to be involved in everything. I’m hoping to get back in there and help everybody that I can. Help the taxpayers, help the employees, and I just enjoy helping people.”
Moore believes his job would benefit Jonesborough’s infrastructure.
“I’ve been certified in concrete and asphalt, so I’ve been well-versed in construction. Roadways, bridges, etc. So I think that would be a big asset to the town when we have projects going on. I know it’s a plus when you’ve got somebody that knows whether the job’s being done right or not. And I think sitting on the board that could be important to ensure the taxpayers are getting their bang for their bucks.”