ERWIN — Unicoi County resident John Day said fellow residents began approaching him around two months ago to see if he would consider running for county mayor.
As more and more people approached him, with some offering campaign donations and others offering to give their time to his campaign, Day said he realized these residents were serious about him seeking the office and are confident in his leadership ability.
“One of the reasons I’m running for the office of mayor is I was approached by several people, several commissioners, who I have been, of course, helping with research and county issues over the past couple of years,” Day said. “I was approached by neighbors, family and some people I had never met who have either called me or stopped me on the street, so I’ve got a huge support base right now, and it’s growing more every day at a very fast rate.”
Day has announced that he will seek the office of county mayor in next year’s election. Day is a retired business and engineering consultant. He was born and raised in Unicoi County until entering the military in 1969. He returned to the county in 2008 to make his full-time residency here. Day holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Tennessee and a master’s of business administration degree from the University of New Mexico. He has also served as chairman of the local organization the Unicoi County Citizens for Good Governance.
“I grew up here. I want to give something back,” Day said of seeking the mayor’s office. “I’ve been blessed with a good education, good experiences, a lot of knowledge, and I’d like to bring that back home and use it to help people here. I just want to give something back to the county where I grew up.”
Day said he feels the county has been divided on issues, but is now at a turning point, with many residents wanting things to change for the better. He said he wants to provide the leadership and work with others to make this change happen and enhance the county’s quality of life.
“I want to unite this county,” he said. “It’s split. It’s been split over many issues. I want to be a force to help unite the county and bring people together for one common goal, and that’s to make our county the kind of place that everybody in this country wants to come to to live because it’s a place where everybody’s treated the same, everybody can be friendly to their neighbors, share in the good times and help each other through the bad times, and make this place something that we’re all proud of. ... I want to provide some leadership to make good things happen here.”
Bringing new businesses into the county is another issue, Day said. He said he would work with other officials and utilize his business contacts throughout the country to bring in businesses and promote business growth and training from within the county.
“Here’s where I think we’re failing on that — I don’t think the county has assessed what we have to offer against what the needs are in our surrounding counties and across the country,” Day said. “In other words, what are people buying? What are they doing with their time, and how can we meet those needs?”
To effect change, Day said the county must eliminate the “good old boy” system that he feels has run the county for too long. Day said if he is elected, he will work to ensure the poorest residents in Unicoi County have the same opportunities as the wealthiest.
“It seems if you don’t know somebody here, you don’t get what’s served on the table. You get the crumbs that fall off. That’s what someone said to me recently,” Day said. “That’s not fair. That’s not equitable. Everybody ought to be brought to the table and get fed the same meal. That’s what the ‘good old boy’ system does. It gives to a few and takes away from many.”
The county must also address overspending, Day said, and he intends to take a look at this issue.
“We’re spending money on things we don’t need to be spending money for because we’re not making wise choices on how we’re spending our dollars,” he said. “ ... We need to scrutinize our spending and spend a little bit more time doing research. That’s the key — research and appraising, checking out alternatives, cost analysis on our expenditures.”
Day said the county needs to be ran like a business, something he could bring to the table as county mayor.
“We’ve grown from a lemonade stand to a corporation,” Day said. “When you’re a lemonade stand, you can manage it like a lemonade stand. When you grow into a corporation with multimillion dollar budgets, you have to run it like a business. You have to structure it in a business arrangement and run it that way because, if you don’t, you’re going to go bankrupt, and we’re headed in the wrong direction here.”
Day said, as mayor, he would run a transparent office and would make sure that all meetings are properly noticed to the public. He also said he will not take “one penny” in campaign donations, as he is financing his own campaign.
“I don’t want to owe anybody any favors when I’m elected mayor,” he said.
For those wanting more information on Day’s campaign, visit www.johnnydayformayor.com. He may also be contacted at P.O. Box 581 Erwin, TN 37650, or via phone at 444-1358.