Although Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens and three members of the Lenoir City Board of Education are running unopposed in the upcoming Tuesday election, city residents do have the option of shaking up the composition of city council and the position of recorder/treasurer.
In the latter race, incumbent Jim Wilburn III is running against newcomer Randall Brown.
Brown, a Lenoir City native, graduated from Tennessee Technical College with a degree in accounting. He currently works in accounting at Lawler Wood, a Knoxville-based real estate and development company. He lives with his wife, Hope, in Lenoir City.
Brown said he thought his training and career experience made him a good fit for the recorder/treasurer position.
"I looked into the position (and) felt like my background in accounting and what I've been doing and at work would fit real well to the position," Brown said, noting that he thought he "offered quite a bit to the position to run for it with what I've been doing in my education."
He said he also thought he could bring some effective leadership skills to the position.
While the position of recorder/treasure is not the most glamorous post to hold, Brown said he was attracted to the more detail-oriented parts of the job.
"It looked like it would be a good challenge, and I could offer a lot to the position," Brown said. "But I could also learn and grow in that position too, but yes I do like the number aspects of it."
Wilburn, who has been involved with the J.W. Wilburn Hardware in Lenoir City since he was a child, began working full time with the company in 1972. He retired as president of the business with 35 years of service. He said he was pleased that the city was given a clean audit report during the latest independent investigation for the fiscal year ending June 2011.
"I would have to say I'm proud of getting the office working smoothly," Wilburn said. "When I came in here my predecessor had resigned. Some employee records were missing, so I have worked on all that. There was a lot to do."
Wilburn said he anticipated that investigators would find no audit deficiencies in the next report. He said he thought his experience gave him an edge over his competitor.
"I believe there's a lot of experience that I've got, and with age comes a little wisdom too," Wilburn said.
In the other contested race in Lenior City, challenger Rebecca Watkins is running against incumbents Bobby Johnson Sr., Eddie Simpson and Harry Wampler to fill three seats on city council.
Watkins, who ran for a council seat in 2010, said she was encouraged by residents to try again this year.
Noting that she thought the News-Herald was biased toward incumbents, she only agreed to respond to inquiries for this story via a prepared emailed statement.
"I believe the answer to all these questions is the fact that I see a need for change in many of the practices and policies that have become 'business as usual' for all the other candidates over the years," she wrote in the email.
She noted that she was focused on equitable hiring practices for qualified city residents, "more complete and detailed" meeting minutes, "easier access" to public documents and a "detailed specific accounting" of how tax money and other revenue is being spent.
She also addressed potential conflicts of interest in city and county posts.
"I believe we have too few people wearing too many hats, and that this causes conflicts of interest for elected officials who hold more than one office and/or are also employees of the City, LCUB (Lenoir City Utilities Board) or County government," she wrote.
Wampler, who was appointed to finish out Aikens' term when he was elected mayor, also served on council for two decades between 1962-82. He said he was most proud of Lenoir City being able to balance its books this last fiscal year, as well as the work its done in renovating the War Memorial Building.
Wilburn told council members in September that the city ended its last fiscal year with $400,000 in reserves, to add to the $300,000 the municipality had the previous year. As of September, the city had about $1.9 million in its rainy day fund.
Wampler said he was also pleased that the city had plans acquire the former SunTrust building along Highway 321, which will house the new City Hall.
"Right now, we have our police department's (in) one place," Wampler said. "Our recreation is another place. City Hall is another place. We're just scattered. I think to bring them all together would be an asset for the citizens if they have business to conduct.
"Our city's growing, and we're thankful for that," he added. "Then you're going to need more space as you go along."
Simpson, who has served on council since 1999, said that during his tenure, he was proud to have worked on the Harrison Road project to renovate the intersection at Lenoir City High School and add some turn lanes at the school, along with a project to add turn lanes for businesses along Highway 321 from Matlock Tire Service to Simpson Road.
"I would love to see the things that I've worked on for the last several years (come to fruition)," Simpson said. "The intersection in front of the high school probably is priority for me and has been for several years. It's taken awhile, but we're getting there."
He noted that all but 20 percent of the $3.2 million to renovate the intersection was secured through the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization. The 20 percent would be split between the city and county.
"We don't have a lot of burden for the taxpayers there," Simpson said.
Johnson Sr., who first ran for council in 2008, took over the seat from his father two years prior to that. He has also served on the Lenoir City School Board of Education for 25 years.
He said the city can boast numerous accomplishments during his tenure, including working on the Harrison Road project, the Creekwood Park improvement, the Town Creek extension and others.
"We've never had a tax increase or anything like that," Johnson said. "We've encouraged the growth and management growth, and we also preserved our community values and provided government spending, which we came out with a good sum of money left in the account and building up the rainy day fund. ... It took all of us to do this."
He said that he thought the completion of the Fort Loudoun bridge project would encourage growth in Lenoir City in the future.
"I'm hoping once they get this bridge thing over here built, we'll probably start having some businesses coming up here, maybe after that's done and everything. I think that will help us a lot," Johnson said.
He said he was also pleased to be part of the renovation project at the War Memorial Building.
"(We've) tried to fix this thing up for our veterans," Johnson said. "I'm really interested in that because there's a lot of people died and fought for us, and I want to be sure that our vets are recognized."