Story by Press Reporter: Shannon Taylor
All of the Dresden mayoral candidates showed up at the meet in greet in Dresden at the Purple Iris to answer questions citizens had. Current Dresden Mayor Jeff Washburn and mayoral candidates Brandi George, Mike Vernon and Lyndal Dilday were all in attendance.
Dresden resident April Lieberman asked if the candidates would be willing to agree to a debate co-hosted by media organizations in Weakley County. All of the candidates agreed that a debate would be an excellent idea and that they would have Washburn talk to Weakley County Mayor Jake Bynum about moderating the debate. More details on the upcoming debate will be forthcoming.
Dresden resident and Press Reporter Shannon Taylor asked the candidates what the most important thing Dresden needs right now.
George answered “the city desperately needs to be brought back together. We’ve got a lot of division in our city right now. A lot of people aren’t getting along right now, not growing and not developing. We need to bring citizens together again. Citizens of Dresden need to care about Dresden.
Washburn answered that he agreed with George regarding the division. “It really manifested itself during the tornado. People got mad at each other, and friends got mad at each other, and family got mad at each other, and it is a problem that needs to be fixed. I think a larger solution to what we’re looking at is finding jobs. Jobs that pay a living wage. Jobs that have benefits and that will keep people here and draw people to Dresden to build homes and establish businesses here. That’s going to be a key thing to do.”
Dilday said “We need to pull everything back together.”
Vernon agreed with everyone else and said “I don’t think you’re going to find us too far off on certain topics. I also think we need to do a better job with the city as far as disseminating information. If nobody knows what’s going on—the citizens themselves need to also step up to be able to know what’s going on. We don’t have that flow of information around here. People start making up their own stories and you’re going to hear more of the bad than the good.”
Resident Chase Kesterson asked, “What is the most important trait a politician should exhibit when governing for the people?”
Vernon answered “Honesty. If you don’t have a track history about how honest you’ve been and shown it then people aren’t going to trust you. You’ve got to gain the trust of the public or they aren’t going to want to help you build.”
Dilday said “transparency.”
George said “integrity. You have to be doing the right thing when you don’t think anyone’s looking. If you’re not doing what you know is to be right, you can’t live honestly and be trusted to run a community.”
Kesterson asked, “If elected what actions will you take to improve the community?”
George said, “a transparency of information. When our meetings are open to the public is not typically readily available or posted in a timeframe where people will actually make the meetings. Our elected official’s information isn’t available at City Hall. The city ordinances aren’t readily available or how the city works. This information needs to be available. I’d also like to see programs available for families to do-there’s not a lot for families and children to do in Dresden-and that needs to be kept at a low cost or free because we don’t have the economy to support that right now.”
Washburn said, “It’s going to take us a year or two to get back in a direction, but the great news is that our sales tax was even above what it was budgeted for this year and our property taxes are low-this next year is going to be the tell-tale, but I predict our sale tax is going to be up even beyond what they are this year. Property taxes will probably be up too because a lot of people are building back better.” Washburn also stated that he’s a big supporter of sports for kids, but that he would like to see other things for kids that don’t do those things.
Vernon said “we want more programs. Programs for youth and senior citizens. We want programs for the youth to grow up and stay within the community, but at the same time we can’t just push senior citizens to the side.”
Kesterson asked, “what is the biggest concern facing the city?”
Washburn said, “The fact that we might start dying off and we’ve got to keep looking forward instead of being stagnant. We’ve got to have some growth in industry if we want to keep people here when they graduate high school.”
Dilday said, “Jobs. Building back.”
The other candidates agreed with needing programs for senior citizens and youth as well as growth in jobs.
The candidates all plan on setting up a date and time for the debate which they stated would take place in September or October. More information on that will be coming soon.