In Hamilton County's Republican primary election for District 8, it would be nice to be able to put the three candidates in a blender to cook up the perfect commissioner.
Incumbent Tim Boyd's common-sense approach to problems would be a good mix with East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert's policy-wonk understanding of government. Just a dash of former six-time Commissioner Curtis Adams would add schmooze -- an often necessary ingredient of negotiation and compromise.
Since that's not possible, the best pick is Boyd. What he may lack in tact and policy finesse, he makes up for in an ability to analyze a problem and a fearlessness about refusing to be rushed into uninformed votes.
He points proudly to his suggestion in August not to raise the county's property rate. The commission acted on that suggestion and kept the 2012 rate even though property values overall decreased in Hamilton County which meant lower tax revenue. The county's administration had submitted a proposal to set the tax rate higher to produce the same amount of revenue, and County Mayor Jim Coppinger had proposed a budget built around that planned rate increase.
Boyd, a business manager, also questioned the budget's $635,000 increase in "miscellaneous" spending.
"I study things. In my private business world (as a business manager, engineer and contractor), I don't have the opportunity for do-overs. ... When I'm given a budget at 9:15, and I'm asked to vote on it at 10, I'm not going to do it. ... And what's miscellaneous spending? ... (Looking at the 2013-2014 county budget proposal) it jumped out at me, too, that there was a $635,000 increase in miscellaneous spending."
Boyd's suggestion to keep property taxes the same prompted unanimous commission approval. But eventually, the budget was adopted on a 5-4 vote. He also still questions whether commissioners should get $100,000 each year to spend on projects in their districts and the county community as a whole -- even though the money often is well-spent.
"A $100,000 blank check is just not good policy," Boyd said.
He also thinks Hamilton County and its municipalities need to look at ways to consolidate some services and save money, and he believes the economics of sitting on rainy-day money for higher bond ratings and lower interest costs needs to be analyzed against inflation in construction costs and higher utility costs in out-dated schools.
Adams says he wants to return to county politics, which he left in 2010. He believes his strong suit is in getting people together so decisions can be made smoothly. Lambert, like Boyd, wants to focus on fiscal issues and bring his "economic sense" to the commission. He points to East Ridge's AA credit rating from Moody's rating service and the city's designation as a Border Region Retail Tourism Development District in 2012 which brings extra money to the town.
We endorse Boyd.
The winner of the most primary votes will face Democrat and former Hamilton County School Board member Kenny Smith in the August general election.