Howard Kerr is making another run for county mayor.
Kerr, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2006 Republican primary, picked up a petition from the Blount County Election Commission to run as an independent.
Kerr said there are three major issues facing the county over the next few years. “The first is we’ve got a serious debt problem. We’ve got an enormous balloon payment of 63 million, and we’ll have to refinance. We’ll have to refinance and that will put us in debt even further,” he said. “We’ve got huge debt, and we need to manage that debt reasonably without driving taxes through the roof.”
Kerr said maintaining and creating jobs is the next priority. The former state representative said he wants to help companies protect the jobs they have while at the same time helping attract more high paying, high tech jobs.
“The county has also made a substantial investment in developing the new high tech park. That park is being touted to bring in lot of high tech jobs associated with Oak Ridge,” he said. “I don’t think any of the other announced candidates for mayor has the high credentials to interact with those high tech clients. I speak their language.”
Kerr said he also wants to strengthen workforce development. “We don’t have a lot of folks who have the skill-set needed to fill the jobs coming here,” he said. “The last thing I want to do is bring in great jobs and bring in people from other states to fill those jobs.”
Kerr suggested creating “Mayor’s Schools” where local workers could develop job skills needed to get high tech jobs.
The former state lawmaker said improving education is the next issue facing the county.
“Our education systems are going to be in a really trying time over next few years, and we can not afford to fail,” he said. “We absolutely must succeed in improving education. Blount County has a fantastic education system, but even the great can be made even greater.”
Kerr said he is best suited to face the challenges for the county in the near future. “I have a long history of being involved in these activities,” he said. “If given the position of county mayor, I can dedicate myself to bringing out needed changes in those areas.”
Other individuals who have picked up petitions to run include:
• Gary L. Wynn, Democrat, 1822 Morganton Road, Maryville, County Commission District 6 Seat A;
• Dennis Cardin, Republican, Nelson Lane, Friendsville, Circuit Court Clerk;
• Bob Proffitt, (incumbent) Democrat, 400 Indiana Ave., Maryville, County Commission District 5 Seat B;
• Steve Hicks, Republican, 3430 Morganton Road, Maryville, County Commission District 6 Seat A.
• In the State House District 20 race, Bob Ramsey, (incumbent), Republican, 2120 Middlewood Drive, Maryville, is being challenged by Tommy Lambert Kerr, Republican, 1015 Hardwick Drive, Maryville.