“I just think that I’ve done my job,” Lynch said Friday. “That was my motto during the last election — ‘Taking care of business,’ and I think that’s what I have done. I have taken care of business.”
On Friday, Lynch took out a petition from the county Election Commission Office to begin to seek another term in the May Republican Primary. Lynch, who was first elected to the office in 2006 and is nearing the end of his second term as county mayor, said he would bring eight years of experience to the job if re-elected.
“I feel like my services will be valuable since the county has basically trained me to be the mayor over the last seven-and-a-half years, and I feel like my experience over these years has been probably as diverse as any mayor in the history of the county as far as various things that happened that had never happened before,” Lynch said.
During his time as county mayor, Lynch said he has made a number of connections throughout the state, including serving as the president of the Tennessee Association of County Mayors this past year. He said he has managed several crises affecting the county while taking a “middle of the road” approach on matters unclear at the time.
Lynch said he has always done his homework to provide information to county commissioners, that the county has maintained a 1A bond rating over the past seven years and that he has helped secure millions of dollars in grant funding for various projects, including the Evergreen and Temple Hill sewer line extensions, a water system upgrade for Erwin Utilities, grant funding to upgrade the industrial park’s rail spur and other tourism-related grants.
Lynch said he was also an advocate for bringing in a full-time Economic Development director, and he worked to help bring the state park to the Rocky Fork area.
“I am not a credit-taker,” Lynch said. “I have been involved with the right people in order to make this happen.”
Lynch also said he hopes that what he perceives as “confusion” over the county mayor’s role is cleared up during the campaign season. He said the mayor is not “the boss of the courthouse” or over the commission. He said the mayor and his staff are primarily responsible for supplying the commission information necessary for its consideration of items. He said the mayor’s office is also responsible for handling the county’s purchase orders, as well as payroll and insurance for its employees.
“I’m hoping that throughout this election that will be cleared up because a lot of people think that the mayor can do more than what the mayor can do,” he said. “I’ve always said the mayor, and I know this now, is probably the most accountable, least-powerful person in the county. I can’t just tell (Roads Superintendent) Terry Haynes to go fix a bridge. I can’t just tell the sheriff’s department to do something. I have to work in conjunction with these people. These people are my peers, my professional peers.”
If re-elected, Lynch said he would:
• Work to bring new jobs to the county while working to maintain businesses already in place.
• Continue to be involved in the process of developing the new Rocky Fork State Park.
• Continue to maintain the county’s relationship with the U.S. Forest Service.
• Continue to market the county as a destination for recreational tourism.
“This is my career, and I hope to continue my career,” Lynch said. “I feel like I have the experience, the connections and expertise to continue this job in a professional manner and to keep Unicoi County moving forward.”
Others who have taken out petitions thus far to seek the office in the Republican Primary are John Day and Unicoi County Commission Chairwoman Marie Rice. Rice has also taken out a petition for first district county commissioner, and she has until Feb. 20 to decide which office she will seek. Former county mayor Larry Rose has also taken out a petition to seek the office as an Independent candidate.