The race for Carter County Commissioner District 1 is quickly coming to an end. Residents of the district will have the opportunity to go to the polls Tuesday to select the successor to Bill McLaughlin. Several of those residents had the opportunity to hear Joe David McReynolds, the Democratic candidate and Larry Darter, the Republican speak at a forum at the Ardmore Public Library.
Each of the candidates answered questions posed by the Ardmore Young Professionals and their respective political parties, as well as citizens during the hour affair. Scott Chapman, AYP member, moderated the affair and was pleased with the attendance.
"We had around 45 people and I'm impressed with that," Chapman said. "We did it for a school board once and we only had four or five people go so this was good."
Both Darter and McReynolds reiterated many of the positions they have addressed during the campaign. A significant amount of time was spent on roads and the county budget during the meeting as both candidates discussed what they saw as priorities. Both also addressed the amount of time they would intend to serve in the elected position. Darter said he would like to serve as long as needed and McReynolds said he was hopeful he could serve over 20 years. Both would need to renew their terms through the electoral process to remain seated for an extended period of time.
Both agreed that the condition of the roads is an issue with the amount of traffic from the oilfields. Many of the roads are chip and seal and not built to withstand the amount of traffic taking place in District 1. When asked about any budget changes he would make, Darter said he would need to look at the budget closer before he could recommend any changes. McReynolds said he would work as a team with the county but "you never know" from year to year about what shape the budget will take.
Candidates were asked what they would do to eliminate wasteful spending. Darter said he would look at the line items and review budgets from years past. McReynolds said he would spend wisely within the district.
Both roads and budgets were reviewed extensively and the candidates were asked what they saw as the most important task outside of those two issues. Darter said visibility was a key for him and McReynolds said being a good steward of the taxpayer's money and getting out in the public.
Both candidates were asked about issues with the privatization of cemeteries. Recently, the commissioners handed over control of a cemetery in Gene Autry to a private group. The group had asked for the ownership as well as mineral rights from the property for upkeep. The decision leaves those being interred responsible for the cost of opening and closing a gravesite.
"There should have been more discussion rather than listening to four or five people," McReynolds said. "They voted to give it to the public with a 2-0 vote and the people will have to spend more money on graves because of the thought they could make improvements through mineral rights."
Darter said he needed to look into the matter but agreed that the county should take care of opening the graves.
Other issues discussed were paving the roads in the Murphy Edition in Dickson and improvements on State Highway 53.
The early voting schedule is from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday. The polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.