The Walker County Republican Party hosted a debate for the contested Senate and Commissioner race. The debate had a moderator and a panel of three questioners. While there are two Republican candidates seeking the commissioner post, local businessman, Shannon Whitfield, was the only commissioner candidate to appear for the debate. He commented in his two-minute opening statement that he was, “very disappointed that his opponent, [Michael Peardon] did not come.” The obstacle of being the only candidate in the debate did not slow Whitfield as the panel proceeded as scheduled.
The debate started out with questions on the most looming problem facing Walker County, DEBT. Whitfield pointed out that when Buddy Chapman left the commissioner’s office the county debt was 14 million. Now, after four terms of the current commissioner, Bebe Heiskell, the County debt is “north of $80 million,” Whitfield stated. “Restructure the leadership and look for every opportunity to be more efficient” were ideas Whitfield said he would bring to the office in order to create accountability and transparency in government spending. Whitfield plans to reduce spending by at least $1 million and publish a detailed budget with quarterly financial reports.
Whitfield was asked about several of the other problems that Walker County currently faces. Some of these include the crime and property issues in Rossville. Whitfield plans to be connected with the needs of that community. Between Mountain Cove Farm and the landfill, the County is “bleeding about $1.5 million per year.” Whitfield continued to lay out his plan to correct this, “my administration will have a written, vetted plan to fix issues.” He added that he would bring all members of the community to the table when it comes to implementing new strategies, “I will bring the farmer to the table.” Whitfield believes bringing honesty and integrity to the office will lead to fiscally-responsible budget decisions.
Whitfield said he would change the commissioner’s meeting from the way they are currently held, “on some Wednesdays at 3:00”, to a time in the evening when the most citizens could attend. Whitfield emphasized community participation at several points during the event as a pivotal point to a better future for Walker County.
When asked about why he thought the incumbent had switched to being an independent Whitfield said, “Bebe is scared of the Republican voter… she was a democrat, then a republican, now an independent. Although her spending habits show that she never really changed from being a democrat.”
Whitfield concluded by saying, “we are going to get this ox out of the ditch.”
Shannon Whitfield will be speaking on Walker County Problems and Solutions Thursday May 5th at 7pm at the Chickamauga Public Library.