The job of county mayor is one of the most difficult and misunderstood jobs at the courthouse. A county mayor is considered the chief executive officer of county government in Tennessee. He or she is largely responsible for the day-to-day management of that government, as well as maintaining county-owned buildings, preparing the county’s annual budget and providing leadership on a variety of financial matters.
It’s the latter two items that we wish to focus on today in telling you why the Press has decided to endorse incumbent Dan Eldridge for a second term as Washington County mayor. We believe Eldridge has proved himself to be more than capable of managing the budget and long-range financial planning duties of the office.
Eldridge has shown himself to be a consummate professional in dealing with these matters, but it hasn’t been easy. Eldridge has had to tackle an entrenched “change is bad” mentality that has held sway at the Washington County Courthouse for many decades.
Even so, Eldridge’s first term has brought a businesslike approach to managing the fiscal affairs of the county. He has addressed issues like meeting long-term capital needs and building a healthy “rainy day” fund with vision, serious calculation and caution.
As a result of his labors, Washington County’s finances were recently rated AA2 by Moody’s Investor Service. As Eldridge explained at our Community Editorial Meeting with the candidates in Jonesborough on April 1: “That’s two steps from a AAA, which is the best you can get.”
He went on to explain that Washington County has the highest fund balance in its history, and “our revenues and expenditures are in balance. In fact, the last three years, our revenues have exceeded expenditures. Looking at what we’ve been able to do over the years, I can’t help but be pleased.”
We, too, are pleased and believe a majority of Washington County residents feel the same way. That’s why we think Eldridge deserves another four years in office. His professionalism on fiscal matters has been a refreshing change at the courthouse. We’d like to see him continue that work.