Gobble wants better economic  recruiting practices

Robert L. Gobble

By Thomas Wilson
star staff

  As an acting constable and military veteran, Robert L. Gobble says he learned the priority of leadership is taking care of people.
  He expects to apply what he's learned if elected to the Elizabethton City Council for the town's citizens and to improve the local economy.
  "If I get elected, I want to be their voice," said Gobble, 400 M St., who is seeking one of three at large seats on the council in the Nov. 2 city election. "I believe we can get some industry in this town with a little bit of work and cooperation."
  Gobble was successful in his first run for public office two years ago. He was elected constable for the 8th District in 2002. If elected to council, Gobble will have to abandon his constable position.
  Gobble said the city and economic development officials needed to re-evaluate the methods of attracting industrial employers to the town. He said additional tax incentives, land options, and other breaks to help a company's bottom line for relocating to Elizabethton needed to be amplified by local economic advocates. He also felt it was a "crying shame" how numerous empty buildings that once housed industrial employers now stood empty.
  "We are going to have to give them something," Gobble said. "If we have to bend a little to please the people, I say let's bend."
  The council also recently approved a bid of $535,800 with a $107,000 contingency to demolish the old Carter County Memorial Hospital building. Gobble said the property's future uses could include a "family style restaurant or an office complex" with the right plans. He said he wanted to see new development rather than "another car lot or a burger joint" on the land.
  "I don't want to see the city sell it to someone who develops something that we already have plenty of," Gobble said. "I want to see them sell to get something we don't have."
  Also on the city election ballot is a referendum asking Elizabethton citizens whether they want liquor-by-the-drink legalized for sale in the city. Gobble said he opposed the referendum on serving mixed drinks in restaurants or package stores in Elizabethton. He said his faith and experience in law enforcement were the factors in his opposition to the referendum passing.
  "I am against it," Gobble said. "I'd rather lose. I am a Christian and I don't believe in drinking."
  The council voted 4-3 in July 2003 approving an ordinance that allows the seasonal sale of fireworks within city limits during a two-week period through the Fourth of July and New Year's Day holidays. The shooting of fireworks remains illegal within city limits.
  Gobble said he had no problem with the seasonal sale of fireworks but opposed shooting fireworks within city limits anytime rather than holiday periods.
  "They don't need to be shooting fireworks 365 days a year," Gobble said. "When I was a boy, it was illegal to even have them in the city."
  Gobble said the city administration had done well managing the city in recent years.
  In other issues, Gobble said he wanted to develop more recreational opportunities for the community's teenagers. He also said he wanted the council to rethink a relatively new city policy charging residents to collect up to one ton of brush on city streets.
  Gobble said he understood the city's position of charging for brush collection, but felt small brush piles were not being collected effectively. He said citizens should expect removal of small shrubbery and debris as part of standard city services.
  "I've had people ask 'why the city don't pick up the shrubbery,'" he said. "Why can't the city haul it off?"
  A veteran of the Vietnam War, Gobble retired from military service with the U.S. Army and Tennessee Army National Guard. He spent 14 years as a police officer with the Johnson City Bureau of Police and two years as a deputy with the Carter County Sheriff's Department. Gobble also worked in private business and automotive supply sales for several years.
  Gobble and his wife, Esther, have two sons, Robert Gobble Jr. and Ronnie Gobble, as well as four granddaughters and one grandson. He said the entire family resided in Elizabethton. Gobble added he was running to keep the city livable and viable for his grandchildren's future.
  "I love this town and community and I want to see my grandchildren be able to work here," Gobble said. "We have a good community to raise kids and I hope we keep it that way."