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Three candidates vie for two seats in town’s upcoming aldermen race

One incumbent and two challengers will go on the 2014 ballot as the Town of Jonesborough seeks to fill two aldermen positions on its board.
Chuck Vest, currently seeking his third term as alderman, will compete against newcomers David Sell and Nansee Williams in the Nov. 4 election, with early voting beginning Oct. 15.
Vest, who had considered stepping down after his term expires in November, said he felt like there was still more to do.
“The first time (I ran for alderman), it was because I felt the town financially was pretty weak,” Vest said. “The reason I decided to run for re-election was I realized we had accomplished a lot of good in the last eight years, but it isn’t done yet.”
Vest decided he definitely wants to be part of that continued growth.
He cites improvements of the town’s water system and wastewater treatment system as something of which he is especially proud.
“When I was first elected, our most critical issue was our wastewater system,” Vest said. “The town was somewhat in denial about polluting Little Limestone Creek, and our wastewater system never could have gotten into the position it was in.”
Now, he said, the town has clean water and a solid infrastructure.
“Our water system and wastewater system are not something sexy to talk about, but if they ever stop working, we would be in a world of hurt,” Vest added.
Vest said working hard to get the staff to receive the compensation they deserve was another smart move by the board.
“Our town had a morale and productivity problem,” he said. With lower pay, but higher insurance coverage, quality staff were in danger of leaving.
“Other municipalities could lure them away because it looked on paper like a higher salary offer,” Vest explained. The town was able to raise the base pay so it was more comparable to other towns.
For Vest, in the past eight years, Jonesborough has gone from a D+ to an A.
“We’ve come a long way,” Vest said. “It’s been a team effort. And town staff were open to changes.”
He also credits Mayor Kelly Wolfe, currently up for re-election as well, as being crucial to Jonesborough’s success.
“Joneborough’s biggest asset is the character of the town,” Vest said. “It is really important to all of us who live here that we retain that character.”
Vest continued.
“If elected, I will be a team player. Every decision I make will be what’s best for the town. I want voters to look at how healthy our town is now when they vote for mayor and aldermen.”
Local businessman David Sell has never served as alderman, but he thinks it might be time to change that.
“I’ve been in business here going on 16 years,” Sell said. “I’m not a politician. I don’t have an agenda. But the Town of Jonesborough and its people have been really good to me. I just want to give back.”
Sell, owner of Ace Town Hardware on 11E, believes his business and management experience would be assets to the town if he is elected.
He also believes that new blood and new ideas are always beneficial in any local government entity.
“I’m a firm believer in change and term limits,” Sell said.
Currently, Jonesborough “is the strongest I’ve seen it since I’ve been here,” said Sell, who has lived in Washington County all his life.
Jonesborough’s current infrastructure is a great asset, and the quality of life offered in Tennessee’s oldest town is key to its future.
Part of those benefits, Sell sees as a product of Jonesborough’s administration and its town employees.
“They’re wonderful,” Sell said. “They seem to really care about what they are doing.”
As for things he would like to see change, Sell cites a broadening of town-sponsored events to include more local appeal.
“During Wheels on the Hills, I saw more local people than I’ve seen in a long time,” he said.
Sell would also like to continue to see 11E businesses getting their due.
“If I’m elected, I’ll be a representative for 11E business and a voice for 11E issues,” he said.
One dream of Sell’s is to someday see Jonesborough businesses with some of the same voting rights in town elections as its citizens.
“It’s a shame they don’t have a voice,” Sell said.
While this Jonesborough business owner is pleased with the town’s progress and direction, he still wants to make sure “we keep taxes a low as possible.”
For that task, Sell feels well equipped.
“The first thing is, I’ve met a payroll,” he said. As a business owner, I know when you have to tighten your belt. And I know what it’s like to go home without a paycheck.”
He also sees his ability to communicate with the public as an asset. “I have experience dealing with people. Dealing with the public is a good asset to have.”
If elected, Sell said, he would do his best to keep Jonesborough going in the direction it needs to go.
“I am my own man,” Sell said. “I believe in speaking and standing up for what I feel is right. My only influence will be what the citizens of Jonesborough want. I’m not a politician. I have no agenda.”
For Nansee Williams, Jonesborough’s third alderman candidate, working an election is nothing new.
“I always helped my parents’ friends run for office since I was 13 years old,” Williams said.
Her parents were also strong believers in the importance of voting and volunteering, values which Williams has embraced wholeheartedly.
These are values she believes she has already exhibited repeatedly as a resident of Jonesborough. A member of the Heritage Alliance board and Schubert Club, to name just two positions, Williams has helped organize Progressive Dinners, Garden Galas and various fundraisers — anything to benefit Jonesborough.
“I had the time and the resources,” she said simply. “And I really wanted to give back to this town.”
When she began to seriously look at the possibility of running for alderman, she believed the importance of this town involvement was underlined.
“If you’re going to become a part of the government body of the town,” Williams said, “I really feel you should be involved with the town.”
If elected, Williams intends to be that type of alderman — aware of the fabric of the town and its people, not just issues on an agenda.
“Neighbors here care about neighbors,” she said.
Williams also believes strongly that the town would be benefitted by adding a woman to its board. “We do think differently,” she said. “I want to see the progress continue. However, I really think that a woman has some different takes on some things.”
And when it comes to balancing finances, she knows she would be up to the task.
“I like numbers,” Williams said. “I was a math major in college.
“We’ve gone from a smaller budget to a larger budget,” she added. “Not everyone is capable of looking at those numbers and understanding them.”
Williams wants to ensure smart use of town money, though she is pleased with the town’s current position and praises current Town Administrator Bob Browning’s grant writing abilities, a skill that is a must in a small town like Jonesborough, she said.
She would like to see Jonesborough add some more restaurants downtown. And she’d like to more sidewalks throughout the town, not Main Street, she said.
Williams also wants to ensure everyone recognizes and enjoys downtown Jonesborough’s recent rebirth.
“It’s not just for certain people,” Williams said. She has watched her former historic district in Popular Bluff, Mo., suffer and nearly die.
“I compare it to Jonesborough,” Williams said. “This could happen if we do not continue our quest to make this a healthy, vibrant community.”