Adam Dickson

Jonesborough Alderman and Langston Centre Supervisor Adam Dickson places his hand over his heart as the national anthem is perfomed at a prayer breakfast for Martin Luther King Jr. and the Memorial Park Community Center on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020.

First elected to the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen in 2012, Adam Dickson was unsuccessful in a re-election bid in 2016 before he was appointed to fill an unexpired term after the man who defeated him resigned to run for a seat on the County Commission.

Two years later, Dickson has his eyes set on a second full term and is one of five people vying for two open seats on the board this November. Dickson is one of the two incumbents, the other being Alderman Terry Countermine, running for re-election.

Recently, the Press spoke with the Jonesborough native and Langston Centre supervisor about his goals for a second term, challenges he feels the town is facing and other issues as part of a series of profiles on the candidates running to represent the town in November.

What are some of your biggest accomplishments as an alderman?

I would say that, in the course of the time that I’ve been on the board, there’s been a few things of note. First off, there has been the formation of the McKinney Center, and the McKinney Center is very important in terms of community building, community unity and how we repurposed a space that was used for division. We’ve seen a lot of success come out of the McKinney Center. That has been one positive thing that I’ve seen.

On top of that, in the time that I’ve been on the board, we have not increased property taxes. We’ve been able to provide quality water to our ratepayers, and that is very positive. We have expanded our quality of life portfolio with the construction of the Jackson Theatre and now Lincoln Park. I know you asked about my accomplishments, but I think everything I just mentioned, the entire board can take credit in, and I’m just glad that I’ve been a part of some of those positive developments.

What are some things you feel Jonesborough is doing well?

I think that, in terms of community building as a key aspect of what we call quality of life — I guess I’ll use the phrase the quality of life component to economic development, I think Jonesborough does well. Jonesborough is willing to admit that we are a bedroom community for Johnson City, so we know the space we are in and we have defined that space well. By focusing on arts as a component of economic development, we have seen our downtown survive. I think we had the first waterpark-type service in the region with Wetlands Waterpark — Jonesborough led the way.

In terms of quality of life, the way we have invested in arts as economic development, the way that we have really honed in on community building through the arts — I think that’s something that Jonesborough has done extremely well. Many municipalities provide essential services, but Jonesborough has developed a name for our investments in the McKinney Center, the Repertory Theatre, the arboretum, et cetera.

What things do you feel could be improved?

That’s a good question. You know you’re kind of biased about your hometown, and you feel like your hometown is doing things quite well. The town of Jonesborough has just approved at our last meeting (Sept. 14), a request for proposal with NET360 to redesign our website, so we can always, I think, reach out to the larger world and ramp up our use of technology. Making sure, for example, that payments — water payments, utility payments — can be made via phone, via computer and in person. They currently are available in person and online, but I think offering a phone component as well and having the technology to actually store checking accounts so you can just pay by phone and be done with, I think, is just an added convenience to our ratepayers.

In terms of greater needs, I think Jonesborough is on a positive path, and I’m sure there’s always room for improvement, but I think Jonesborough is on a positive path.

(Note: The Johnson City Press and NET360 are both owned by Six Rivers Media, LLC.)

Why should the people of Jonesborough re-elect you?

I would hope the people of Jonesborough would elect me to another term because I do have the six years of experience on the board, I do have a desire to lead and leadership is really built on consensus, listening, a sense of humility. Those aspects are very important when we think about governing. Those are essential values that define me as a servant-leader, and they’re values that I want to apply to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, so I’m very hopeful for another term.

If elected, what would be your goals for a second term?

Things I would like to see if I’m elected to another term is an actual business loan pool program. I think that COVID has shown us that we’ve had some really good businesses downtown and many of our businesses have struggled. We created a business recovery fund to assist the businesses to get through COVID, but I would like to see a business pool where we would actually have a pool of cash so that people start their own businesses and access that. People enjoy buying local, so whatever we can do to spur locally owned business is to the town’s advantage and allows us to provide the amenities that make a destination.

Seeing these projects we have started, seeing them to completion — the K-8 school, the Jackson Theatre, dog park — we want to see those projects continued. And, just making sure that we can continue to provide quality service to our ratepayers.

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