CLAXTON—Warren Gooch has a time-honored, easy-to-remember campaign promise. “I will not raise taxes,” he’s proclaimed on billboards alongside busy roads in Anderson County.
It’s a message that Gooch, the Democratic candidate for Anderson County mayor, continued to deliver this week, this time in person, during a Tuesday evening forum at Claxton Elementary School. It was the first of four forums Gooch has scheduled this month.
“Raising taxes is simply not an option,” said Gooch, a 60-year-old Oak Ridge attorney.
Gooch points out that there was already a significant property tax rate increase in Anderson County last year to help pay for projects that include a jail expansion, new alternative school, and the purchase of industrial land.
Also, the current economic recovery is very fragile, Gooch said.
“Adding to that uncertainty with new taxes, I just don’t think we can do,” he told a crowd of several dozen people.
Neighboring counties aren’t raising their taxes, so Anderson County can’t either if it wants to stay competitive, Gooch said.
Gooch is a health care lawyer and former managing partner at Kramer Rayson LLP, where he has practiced for 34 years. This is his first run for political office, and he promised not to seek any others, saying he wants to focus on the Anderson County mayoral duties.
He will face Republican Terry Frank, a Clinton resident and Oak Ridge business owner, in the Aug. 2 county election.
The winner will serve a special two-year term, filling the remainder of the unexpired term of four-term Anderson County Mayor Rex Lynch, who resigned in January 2011 after being indicted for sales tax fraud. Former Anderson County Commissioner Myron Iwanski is serving as interim county mayor.
It will be the first time in 14 years that the county has elected a new mayor, said Gooch, who is also a past chairman of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce.
Besides his pledge to not raise taxes, Gooch vowed to vigorously promote Anderson County to businesses. He said the county needs to focus on business investment and job creation, and that requires daily boosterism. Local assets that could be promoted range from a beautiful environment and Roane State Community College to automotive plants and the Y-12 National Security Complex, Gooch said.
“I’ll be on the field every day,” promoting the county, he said.
Gooch’s next three forums are at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 5, at Dutch Valley School; 1 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at Scotty Phillips Store in New River; and 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at Briceville Elementary School.