Harry “Whitey” Hitchcock has announced he is seeking re-election to the Anderson County Commission, representing District 6 in Oak Ridge, which includes the City Hall, Robertsville, and West Hills voting precincts, a press release said.
“It has been my honor, privilege, and joy to get to know and represent the very diverse citizens of District 6, a task I take seriously,” Hitchcock said in the press release. “When first elected in 2006, I pledged to
- help reduce crime,
- bring tax dollars back to Oak Ridge, and
- help re-new an effective working relationship between the city and the county. I feel that this has been largely accomplished, yet there is more work to do with a city-county partnership: housing, jobs, and retail development.”
Hitchcock said crime is everyone’s concern, and its cost cannot be overestimated.
Since 2006, he said, crime in Oak Ridge has been reduced by almost 25 percent. In addition to a jail expansion to house Oak Ridge’s worst offenders, Hitchcock lists among his accomplishments: providing Ridgeview Hospital matching funds for a multi-year federal mental health diversion grant, receiving a Department of Justice technical assistance grant to reduce jail overcrowding, establishing a new Sessions Court location in Oak Ridge, and creating a new Juvenile Court facility.
Using county property tax dollars to benefit Oak Ridge, which pays one-third of the total collected, has been a major concern for Hitchcock, the press release said. He said he was a leader in providing Roane State $500,000 for expansion and $160,000 to Emory Valley Center for a new building site. He also assisted the County Clerk, Trustee, and Veteran’s Office establish satellite offices in the city, the release said.
Hitchcock said he was committed to retail development and initiated what became a private act to allocate 10 percent of the county hotel/motel tax to the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce, which has now filled a retail development position. As chairman of the Commission’s Operation Committee, Hitchcock also ushered through a unanimous vote to support the Oak Ridge Mall redevelopment through tax increment financing, the release said.
Among Hitchcock’s most important accomplishments is, arguably, the establishment of a full-time Veterans Service Office using a non-political appointment, the release said. Veterans’ benefits have since risen from $3 million to $18 million. “This is not only deserved, it has the economic impact of a small industry,” Hitchcock said.
“I ask the citizens of District 6 to allow me to continue using my experience, proven leadership, and established working relationships in serving them another term,” he said. “Mayor (Tom) Beehan has called the county-city relationship ‘the best ever,’ and I agree. Together, we can put more houses, stores and people in Oak Ridge.”
As county commissioner, Hitchcock serves as chairman of the Operations Committee and is past chair of the Veterans and Non-Profit committees. He is an Air Force Vietnam veteran.
A retired teacher, Hitchcock is a graduate of Leadership Anderson County and served on the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce Board, promoting retail development, and also served as chairman of the Anderson County Conservation Board, the release said. He resides in Oak Ridge’s Burnham Wood subdivision with his wife Ellen.