Three men are vying for two positions on the Louisville Board of Aldermen. Each has an impressive resume and each has a vision for what they do and do not want Louisville to become.
One candidate is an environmental entrepreneur, one is an Emmy-winning producer and one is automotive manufacturing manager.
The candidates have similar views on completing the proposed town/community center and on encouraging controlled growth. One candidate pledges to put his own money toward the town hall project. Another notes that he is using the word “please” on his signs when asking for votes and another, the incumbent, is touting his two terms on the board as a peacemaker between the public and aldermen.
What isn’t lost on all the candidates is importance of the next five years to the town’s growth. They each want a town that looks more like Hilton Head and less like Clinton Highway.
Here are the candidates for the 2008 Louisville Board of Aldermen race.
Steve Dixon, 56
3160 Logan Hill Road
Two adult children: Mark Dixon and Tara Davies
President of Spectre Group which includes Spectre Environmental, Spectre Recycling and Spectre Industrial Services with customers in 16 states.
Has lived in Louisville 25 years.
Steve Dixon said for years he has been involved with his family in activities such scouting, ball teams and band. “Now that my kids are gone, my interests have turned in another direction, and I’ve become active in environmental things,” he said.
He is chairman of the environmental management advisory board to the Department of Energy in Oak Ridge. He also is involved with the Fort Loudon Lake Association and the University of Tennessee’s Little River advisory board.
“I have concerns about water and environmental issues. What got me involved was that last summer I was keeping informed on things going on around here and became concerned when I saw close to 1,000 new houses being presented to the Louisville zoning commission,” said Dixon. “I began looking into some of this and noticed that a significant portion of these were located close to waterways, one right behind my house.”
Dixon said he didn’t think enough conversation was going on as to the impact of water runoff and the impact of development on existing homes. He also was concerned about whether the town had the infrastructure and tax structure to handle new growth since Louisville doesn’t levy a property tax.
When the bottom fell out of the housing market, 400 to 500 planned housing units were pulled from the planning stages. One was a 100-acre development with 130 homes and a sewer plant that he said would have drained into Lackey Creek Bay. “The option ran out, and I bought the property to stop the development,” he said. “I’m all for private enterprise and growth. I just want to make sure we have adequate planning to deal with this and have good strong protection for existing residents, the lakefront and the financial structure to deal with growth. That’s when I decided to get involved. I had neighbors encourage me to do this, and I said I’d make a run.”
Dixon said he would like to see the proposed town hall built. “I’m the only candidate who has pledged a personal contribution to build the town hall. I pledged $5,000 plus more if needed. Both of the other candidates have declined to pledge anything,” he said. “I put my money where my mouth is. The town hall is a big project.”
Dixon said he also wants to see that zoning and construction is above-average to protect storm water runoff and the lake. “The lakes and bays are major attractions of living in Louisville, so I want to make sure that asset is protected,” he said.
Dixon said he also wants to form a Beautify Louisville Committee to promote landscaping and set backs.
In the next five years Dixon said the roundabout at Miser Station, Mentor and Louisville roads should be complete, as should the new town hall/community center. “We’ll have significant road improvements and sidewalks and recreation things we lack now. Those are the primary things I see happening over the next five years other than possibly putting in good regulations,” he said. “We have good regulations now but we need to enhance those to address to the promotion of environmentally positive practices.”
Dixon said what he doesn’t want for Louisville in the next five years is uncontrolled development and growth that have a negative impact on existing citizens and property.
Dixon said he has an undergraduate degree in accounting and graduate work in planning. He also has worked in the public arena with jobs such as director of business management for the Airport Authority and director of finance for the Knox County Community Development.
“There’s no other person on the board or my opponents who have this type of background. None of my opponents bring a background that strong to the table. I think my experience and knowledge in those areas really has something to offer the town as far as long range planning and infrastructure needs,” he said.
Dixon said he has a good relationship with everyone currently on the board and all members of committees. “I can speak to and invite anyone of them into my home and talk to any of them. I have no problem with anybody,” he said.
To get elected, Dixon said he is doing the typical things in a campaign such as one-on-one conversations and sending out promotional materials.
“I am going out and meeting people, talking to them and just listening more than telling at this point,” he said.
Joe Gallagher, 81
3151 Hardy Boulevard.
Wife: Carol, six children: Ed, John, Bill, Pete and Joe Gallagher and Marie
Retired television producer
Has lived in Louisville 10 years.
Joe Gallagher said his reason for running is Louisville needs a different attitude in leadership. “They need transparency in government, which we don’t have,” he said.
The retired television producer who won an Emmy for coverage of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics said Louisville has been running since it inception less than 20 years by a group of dedicated people. “I think they’ve been doing it too long, and they don’t communicate with citizens,” he said. “As I see it, Louisville has become a town of two people -- those who have been there and those who are relatively new. People who have been there and running the town don’t like to have new people raise hands and ask questions.”
Gallagher said the larger issue in town is transparency. “They don’t share information with citizens,” he said of the current aldermen. “They seem to resent citizens asking questions and that’s one of the things I want to change.”
Gallagher said it seems to him there are the originals and the new comers. “There is kind of an invisible wall, and it shouldn’t be there. Part of what I want to do is bridge that gap,” he said.
Gallagher said two proposed sites for the new Louisville Town Center are adjacent to where the hall is now and on Louisville Road on property owned by the Cox family.
“I favor the location on the Cox property on Louisville Road primarily because the committee that the aldermen and mayor appointed recommended that site,” he said.
Gallagher said one of the things that came up in town maybe last spring was the development of a design review board. Their function is to set standards for commercial development in terms of how businesses will look in the future. “I think this is a great opportunity for the town to grow but grow with style. I guess function and responsibility of that design review board have not been defined,” he said.
Gallagher said a lot of zoning rules in Louisville have been bent and things like commercial and manufacturing were developed when they weren’t supposed to be.
“We have manufacturing in areas on Louisville Road zoned commercial, and there’s a tennis center on Topside Road that violates lots of zoning restrictions and also impacts the scenic view of the community,” he said. “My goal is to make the zoning rules more specific.”
Gallagher said he also wants to deal with conflict of interest in Louisville town government. “In my opinion there is conflict of interest. The chairman of the planning commission is the principal developer in town,” he said. “I think it’s improper for him to be chair of the planning commission. As accomplished as he is, and I have a lot of admiration for him, I think there is something improper with him being chairman of the planning commission. I’ve stated that publicly.”
Gallagher said he hopes in five years Louisville is a community that retains its scenic views and has grown in a nice way and people are getting along with each other.
Gallagher said he doesn’t want Topside and Louisville roads developed in a way that looks like Clinton Highway. “I would like to see to it that our commercial avenues are done more like the roads leading into Hilton Head, where there’s landscaping and scenic design even to where supermarkets have an attractive look to them,” he said.
Gallagher said that if elected he would request workshops that are open to the public so that the town’s business is more in the open. “It’s a very real concern about the Sunshine Law,” he said.
Gallagher said he has distributed fliers and saturated the community with yard signs. “Something I’m very conscious about is saying, ‘Please vote for Joe Gallagher.’ I think that’s important,” he said. “I’ve copied Alcoa City commissioner George Williams. He’s a pretty smart politician.”
Michael Mund, 46
3264 Deerfield Drive
Wife: Carla and two children, Olivia and Jimmy
Works at SL Tennessee in Clinton as manufacturing manager.
Has lived in Louisville 16 years and has served two terms as an alderman.
Mike Mund, a two-term alderman, said he had just about decided not to run for office again and then changed his mind. “There were a number of big issues the town was facing with controlling development and building a new town hall. There’s a lot of conflict between some of the public and the town, and I wanted to do what I could to improve the relationship between the board and the town,” he said.
One of the reasons he ran for office originally was to do his part to control development. “I don’t want development to run rampant. When you develop, that draws people in. The key is controlled growth,” he said. “It’s a very popular place for people to move. Everybody likes the rural charm, so we have lots of people moving in. If we’re not careful the very thing that draws new people in will go away.”
Mund said the main reason he’s running is to contribute. “That’s why I vote. You can’t complain about anything if you’re not willing to participate,” he said. “That’s the main reason I run.”
Mund said the town hall has become somewhat of a potentially divisive issue, but, if it’s handled properly, it could be a gathering or joining issue to get people to work together to build a new town hall. “It could be used as good thing if it is handled right,” he said.
Mund said another issue of concern is the overall relationship between the board of aldermen and the town. “At times there has been a lot of controversy. We need to improve the relationship. We need to do better job of communicating with the public and getting public input and just working overall to improve that relationship,” he said.
Mund said zoning issues also are a concern. “There was a community group formed - Louisville Citizens Association - to address zoning and development concerns with the town,” he said. “They didn’t feel it was being handled appropriately and that has caused some conflict between that group and the town.”
Mund said that in addition to completing the town hall, he would also like to see more progress on putting together guidelines for non-residential development through the design review board. “That needs to be a tool for developers to build non-residential items in Louisville,” he said. “It’s a potential tool to not only to be sure development is in keeping with what the town wants but also so developers know what is expected of them.”
Mund also wants to see a number of old town bylaws that are in some cases contradictory to state laws dealt with accordingly. “We need to do some housekeeping to make sure they are state compliant and that we’re following our own bylaws,” he said.
In the next five to 10 years Mund said his hope is that with controlled growth Louisville will continue to be a rural area that has charm and is attracting people who want to live there. “With the new town hall as a central point for people to use for the community gathering, my vision is that it won’t grow into something that pushes people away and become something people don’t want it to become,” he said.
At the same time, Mund said he doesn’t want growth to overrun the town. “Right now the town is on the edge with all lakefront property. There are a lot of million dollar houses coming in and developers wanting to develop. The new Lowes Ferry development is a subdivision of million dollar houses with lots of people and growth coming in,” he said. “It’s really easy to lose sight of controlling that…the draw of dollar signs and people wanting to develop everything. If you’re not careful you lose what drew them in in the first place.”
Mund said one of the biggest benefits he’s been able to provide the board is a spirit of diplomacy whenever there has been conflict or turmoil.
“At times there have been emotion issues, and I’ve been able to keep that aspect out of it and be a calming voice on issues,” he said. “Being the parent of a special-needs child helps me keep things in perspective, as well as helps equip me for dealing with challenges.”
To get elected, Mund said he is taking the same tact he has used in previous elections. “So far I’ve not spent any money, and I’m concentrating on word of mouth and door-to- door, and my track record and reputation,” he said.