Vandenbrink will bring new ideas, new voice to government

By Julie Fann
star staff

Dr. Keith Vandenbrink believes that government budget shortfalls shouldn't fall on the backs of Carter Countians whom, he said, are already overtaxed. If elected county commissioner for the 2nd District, Vandenbrink will seek to protect the people.
   "As an independent, I believe in government living up to the same budget requirements that we have as citizens, and I think the status quo can be changed by bringing new ideas and a new voice to government," Vandenbrink said in an interview with the Elizabethton Star.
   Vandenbrink, an orthopedic surgeon from the Midwest, sought his retirement on Buck Mountain and fell in love with the people. "I've got such wonderful neighbors up there, and they've told me tales for the last three years that I've been here. I sort of attend the local restaurant and talk to the people over coffee," he said.
   Vandenbrink believes the people of Roan Mountain need to be taken more into consideration and said his discussions with them confirm this. "I believe in true representative government, and I would like to hold meetings and let people tell me what they want. We don't have government for the people and by the people anymore," he said.
   Vandenbrink is not supportive of a countywide zoning plan. "While it's appropriate for cities, I don't think it's appropriate for counties. In rural America, the freedoms enjoyed by these farmers do not require all areas to be zoned," he said.
   The idea of having a financial director for the county is dependent upon the job description, according to Vandenbrink, because one individual cannot change the county's spending habits. If the role of a financial director is only to keep the books for the county, like a CPA, then Vandenbrink said it would be an irrelevant position.
   "Unless he or she has some discretionary powers over spending, I don't see how it would change things. I'm just not sure what the working relationship would be," Vandenbrink said.
   Vandenbrink said the county desperately needs to launch an aggressive campaign to acquire businesses. "There've been too many jobs lost in Carter County, particularly with the closure of Alcoa now. There's been a big loss to the tax base," he said.
   According to Vandenbrink, the beauty and individuality of Carter County and Roan Mountain need to be preserved. Vandenbrink said he hopes the people of the 2nd District will consider voting for him.
   "I've listened to the people, and the people want somebody. Maybe they don't want me, but maybe I ought to try to do this thing," he said.