To the Editor:
The City Council election coming up is very important to the future of Oak Ridge. We, as a community, are seeing significant positive change in many areas including retail growth, business recruitment, and quality of life. This election, in my opinion, can set the stage for further positive change and quality growth.
There are three candidates in my opinion, who are seeking seats on Oak Ridge City Council, who can continue and accelerate our cityâ€™s progress. Joe Lee, Jim Dodson, and Hans Vogel have impressive and varied experiences to bring to bear on city issues. All three of these candidates have demonstrated, through their careers and dedication to city service, their potential as Council members and that consensus building and teamwork are keys in their approaches to make things happen.
Lee is currently the construction superintendent for over $400 million worth of new construction and renovation projects ongoing or completed at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville campus. In his job, he has learned that planning, prioritizing, focus, and teamwork are essential to make progress and accomplish long term goals, and he can bring these skills to our City Council.
Lee is a 1970 graduate of Oak Ridge High school and recognizes, from a lifetime of residency, the benefits of Oak Ridge citizenship.
Over the past 10 years, one of Leeâ€™s significant contributions has resulted from his membership on the Board of Building and Housing Code Appeals. In this role, he has been the consistent (and sometimes only) voice for aggressively addressing blight in our community. Most of the properties (approximately 40) currently being returned to the tax rolls through the Land Bank have been acquired through efforts of this Board. Even more impactful is the ongoing revitalization of the blighted Applewood/Hunter Circle area and the future planned redevelopment of the area into livable starter housing are evidences of Leeâ€™s involvement.
Lee clearly understands the need for a solid business environment for growing and expanding our city and county’s tax bases. He supports maintaining our high-quality schools, enhancing our outdoor amenities including the Manhattan Project National Park, continuing to develop our human-powered sports facilities (such as the eighth lane project for the rowing course), and maintain and enhance our park system. Lee will never â€œtry to drive the car through the rear-view mirror,â€ and he has a can-do attitude in everything he attempts.
Lee has been a regular attendee at City Council meetings for the last nine-plus years.
He consistently promotes safe neighborhoods, business development, and housing stock diversification. He is already very knowledgeable of our city, and has a good rapport with city staff.Â He realizes public service is an honor and will â€œhit the ground runningâ€ if elected.
Dodson is a teacher in Oak Ridge Schools, and he can bring direct knowledge of our school system to City Council. Dodson is a project-oriented teacher and demonstrates, by example, dedication and a goals-driven approach. He has also developed unique cooperative efforts among teachers of other subjects and projects that span multiple disciplinesâ€¦much to the benefit of students.
Dodson has consistently served the city in volunteer roles, including serving on the Convention and Visitors Bureau (now Explore Oak Ridge). He also served as a member and as chairman of the Oak Ridge Arts Council and, in this role, helped coordinate and plan several Secret City Festivals.
He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Secret City Events Planning Task Force, and they are in the process on integrating existing and new events into our future community outreach efforts.
Dodson continues to serve the city in other ways, including serving as co-chairman of the 2015 United Way of Anderson County campaign. Dodson was also appointed by Governor Haslam to the Tennessee Humanities Board.
My experience working with Dodson on various projects is that he â€œthinks out of the boxâ€ and will be able to take the long view in planning activities/decisions for the future of Oak Ridge.
Dodson emphasizes his desire to continue the pursuit of safe neighborhoods, and to continue Oak Ridge as a great place for visitors, families to live, and businesses to locate and grow.
Vogel currently works at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has a degree in chemical engineering, and is on the team that operates the Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL. His demonstrated leadership, management, and decision making skills can guide future decisions and direction of the City of Oak Ridge.
Since the U.S. Department of Energy and their contractors have been such a major part of Oak Ridge in the past, Vogel can provide an extremely valuable link to UT-Battelle, ORNL, and therefore DOE. The support to Oak Ridge from DOE has been significantly reduced over the past three decades. A closer link to DOE and the contractors, our largest major corporate citizen(s), can be very important to the future of the city, and Vogel could help reverse the growing gap.
Vogel’s career has been split between the Pacific Northwest and Oak Ridge, but he and his family chose to live in Oak Ridge for the quality of life the city offers. Vogel is also an Army veteran and earned the Bronze Star in Operation Desert Storm. His work and military experience has taught him to â€œplan the work and work the planâ€â€¦an approach that can greatly benefit our cityâ€™s future course. Vogel has stated that he has a â€œstrong vision for the city that centers around working togetherâ€¦â€ and he is a graduate of Leadership Oak Ridge-2015.
Vogel is currently the vice chairman of the Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission, where he has actively participated in the reviewing and commenting of the many recent projects in our city, including the massive Main Street project. Having served on the Planning Commission with Vogel, I find him to be very knowledgeable, attentive, and innovative in his contributions to Planning Commission actions.
Thank you, citizens of the City of Oak Ridge, for your support, encouragement, and advice for me over the last nine-plus years of my terms on Council. I strongly want our Cityâ€™s positive momentum to continue and accelerate.
I hope you, the citizens of Oak Ridge, will strongly consider voting for Mr. Joe Lee, Mr. Jim Dodson, and Mr. Hans Vogel for City Council in the upcoming election.
Early voting begins on October 19, 2016, and the election is on November 8, 2016.
Oak Ridge City Council member
(Editor’s note: Hensley is not seeking re-election.)
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