Voters who remember me know whether they miss me not. If you missed me, please tell your friends and neighbors. If you didn't, please tell me – and what you wish I would do differently.
I have written columns on how I see the future of Oak Ridge. In a nutshell, it should become more of what is already so attractive. This is the best Hometown I can imagine. The people who live here come from near and far. We have many wonderful citizens born here who have chosen to stay and they are, for the most part, welcoming to newcomers. If we advertise our strengths and assets, we can attract new residents who fit right in and contribute to the best of our strengths: art, science, industrial skills, outdoor sports, music, dance, education and more.
We have the opportunity to focus on our assets while we continue to work on our challenges. Even though the city spent a lot of time and money developing a long-term growth plan, we have seemed uninterested in holding ourselves accountable for it. We can do better.
Housing: I am told that the Chamber is working on a housing report. I look forward to its reveal. Meanwhile, we seem to have been led to focus on the “distressed” older homes here instead of the neighborhoods full of loved, cared for, and personalized heritage homes. In addition to the architecturally brilliant and imminently remodel-able “alphabet houses,” the town boasts some of the best examples of mid-century modern and even post-modernist homes. Our young students recently made the connection between our smaller “A” and “B” homes and the Tiny House national zeal. These small homes on mature lots with existing infrastructure are, as Martha Fowler so aptly named them, ideal cottages and bungalows for singles, young marrieds, down-sizers, and retirees.
Outdoor adventure: We have a marvelous network of hiking trails. Our local water is not just great for rowing. It is splendid for paddle-boarding, fishing, skiing, swimming, and general boating. Haw Ridge is sought by hikers and bikers. The reservation attracts hunters for deer season. The spectrum of wildlife attracts animal lovers and bird watchers. Our residents are close enough to the Great Smoky Mountains and spots like the Obed and Frozen Head to enjoy day trips to those and many other areas. (Been to the Lost Sea?)
Culture: If we want people who will continue the tradition of symphony, playhouse, band, and choruses, we need to advertise these, too. The state has a terrific program for reaching out to young retirees in other states where the cost of living is much higher. We should be participating. People who can afford to retire often like to participate in cultural endeavors, as doers or viewers.
Science and education: From the preschool through 12th, from Roane State to ORICLE, the town is dedicated to education. Our students win at Scholars' Bowl and build robots. They excel at music and art.
I do not belong to the “power elite.” It takes years to figure out who influences what. I do belong to the town and to its citizens and am not afraid to tackle difficult situations nor to tell uncomfortable information. I would like you to vote for me. And if I am elected, I would like you to stay in touch. Thanks.