Tester sees education, economic growth as major issues

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   Richard David Tester, a candidate for 7th District Commissioner, says he has always maintained his integrity. "I will do exactly what I say. I'll keep my word.
   "That sometimes gets lost, and sometimes it gets taken for granted when people say it, but I'll say it anyway. That's important to me," said Tester, a constable and associate minister at The Bible Church.
   Tester is employed by Fleenor Security Systems as an electronic technician. He and his wife, Jessica, were married in March and reside in Elizabethton.
   If elected, Tester said he "will be a mouthpiece" for the citizens of his district and represent them "to the best of my ability for the overall betterment of Carter County. I'm hard-working and goal-oriented. I think those abilities make me the right candidate for the job."
   Tester says the issues most important to him are economic growth and education. "As I've gotten out and talked to the people in my district, those are the two major issues they seem to care about the most," he said.
   Whether Carter County should have countywide zoning is not a decision Tester would want to make by himself, he said. "I would have to really explore that possibility, because there are pros and cons." He said he would need to get the opinion of citizens in his district and collect information before he could make a decision.
   Tester believes hiring a finance director should help the county with efficiency and accountability, but a lot of it is going to depend on the county committee already appointed "and who they decide to hire. It would free up some time for the county executive" and give him time to do other things besides finance, he said.
   Asked whether he thought the county's industrial recruiting methods should change, Tester said, "I'm not sure of any methods. I'm not wanting to be degrading toward any particular person at all, but it's not the way I would go about doing things.
   "From the outside looking in, it's hard not to wonder who is being held accountable. Of course, we're in an economic slowdown, but you see surrounding counties that are endeavoring to go out and get more industry for their county. We're not too smart to where we can't go down the road a few miles, or pick up the phone and talk to some of these other surrounding counties," he said. Utilizing the Internet and "plainly said, just rolling up your sleeves and going to work" is another way.
   Hiring an industrial recruiter also should be explored, Tester said. "I wouldn't have the best answer at this time, but we need to do something, and I think that could be an alternative."