By SERINA MARSHALL
Staff Writer [email protected]
Being a part of the Washington County Commission for the past eight years, Republican Robbie Tester has made the decision to use his experience to seek to serve as mayor.
“I look at it as, I ran for county commission as a concerned citizen. I knocked on a whole bunch of doors in 2014 and got elected and got re-elected in 2018,” Tester said. “Since 2018,
I have served as chairman of our rules committee and vice-chairman of our commercial, industrial and agricultural committee. And I’ve tried to serve diligently and treat others with respect even when we disagreed.” Tester added that being a part of the commission has been a really rewarding, a good learning experience and he feels he has been able to make a positive difference in that position.
“As far as running for mayor, I’m a concerned citizen trying to make a positive difference,” he said. “I feel strongly that elected positions are called public service for a reason. And I believe government should work for the people, not the other way around. To me leadership should mean service.
“I look at these positions as, people should seek them and serve in them in order to serve the public. To me that’s the purpose of representation. I care about people, and I have a heart for service I’m passionate about good government. I love Washington County, it’s my home; I was born here.”
Tester, a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Tennessee, has a degree in civil engineering with minors in environmental engineering and business administration.
“As an engineer, I’ve gotten training and experience work- ing with complex problems and looking for efficient, simple cost-effective solutions,” he said. “Being an engineer, I am left-brained and organized thinking. And I feel what makes good government is the process of government. It’s open and transparent and thoughtful, the way decisions are made and the way it interacts with citizens.”
Additionally, Tester has been emphasizing citizen engagement throughout his campaign.
“Ever since I was elected to county commission, I’ve made a point most any time someone contacts me about an issue with county commission, I really try to encourage people that we can make a difference and to en- courage people to be involved and informed,” he said. “I think that my professional experience would serve me well if elected to the position of county mayor.
“I also think that my strong convictions about good government and the principles that made our country great, our government should stick to those. Small, limited government, freedom and personal responsibility; I think that if a government is small and held to what it should be doing, that provides the most freedom and opportunity for us as citizens.”
Tester said that there are four things he has been focusing on as he has grown his campaign.
“The first one is engagement of citizens and the second is protecting the God-given rights of citizens. One of the things that would differentiate me from the other candidate in this race is the stay-at-home order that (the current mayor) is- sued,” Tester said. “I know that
COVID is a sensitive issue and a tragic thing, but I’ve got some issues with how our government has responded to COVID. I think our executive orders are meant for executive branch employees, not the entire population. And the executive branch is not supposed to make laws in America, the legislative branch does that.
If I am elected to this position, you won’t see a stay-at- home order like that from me.
“Another thing I’ve been talking about is efficient services. I want our government to provide the kind of services citizens expect, as efficiently and fiscally conservatively as possible. But I think we need to pay a little more attention to limiting our spending and try to live within our means. I feel like there’s a lot of focus on revenue and how do we get more revenue and we don’t fo- cus that much on the spending side, which is where I think we have more control. My record is very consistent and conservative on having less long-term debt.”
In addition to orders and long-term debt, Tester also feels that communication should be addressed across the board.
“We have had some issues with communication this term. That’s actually been one of our commission goals, to improve communication goals internally and externally. With citizens but also internally between department heads, office holders and employees,” he said. “No one person really makes all the decisions, so the communication and the relationship between the mayor and the county commission is very important.”
Tester also promises that if he is elected, he will personally reach out to each county com- missioner at least once a month to check in with them. All 15 of them, regardless of party, personality or vote, will have an open line of communication for everyone to work together to serve the people and strive to work well with all other county officials.
“I just love Washington County. The church we go to, my great-grandfather helped start it over 70 years ago, both sides of my family are here. It’s just home,” he said. “I think I’m a hard-working, intelligent person that cares about people. I have a heart for service and I’m a concerned citizen trying to make a positive difference. And if anyone wants to know more about me or may campaign, they can visit my website at testerformayor.com.”