Glasgow doesn’t have another two years to waste
By Jeff Jobe
Jobe Family Media
Without a doubt over the past six years, the number one issue dividing and tearing our community apart has been matters surrounding the Glasgow Electric Plant Board (GEPB).
Whether you agree with Councilman Patrick Gaunce, Chairman John “Tag” Taylor, and Libby Pruitt Short that Superintendent Billy Ray should continue to make all decisions involving the municipally owned electric provider or with Mayor Harold MD Armstrong, Councilman Marlin Witcher, Glenn Pritchard, and DT Froedge in seeking other options, we can all agree that this issue must come to an end.
This is the exact reason Councilman Gaunce has enlisted candidates that share his views, and this is why the Facebook Social Media Group, Citizens Against the New EPB Rate Structure, has issued endorsements.
Both sides are engaged and both understand how important this election cycle is for their cause. I believe the GEPB is the final strong hold for the old guard in Glasgow. My definition for the old guard is a very small group of business owners who influence our elected officials to borrow, build, and develop so that they can get these no-bid contracts.
And to be perfectly clear, there is nothing illegal with a business owner to maneuver themselves into a position of influence for a politician. Sadly, this is the American way. The issue is when politicians refuse to require laws to be followers.
GEPB’s Superintendent Ray and Chairman of the Board Taylor defend not requiring bidding, and Councilman Gaunce is the front line politician that is in place to protect them.
We saw a clear example of their loyalty to the spend and build for friends at the end of the last election cycle when the former mayor pushed through a land purchase and announced the possibility of a more than $6M water park project. Gaunce was all in and still defends his position to divert and use money inside the city landfill account to pay for such a pet project.
Fortunately, Armstrong and fiscally strong council members Terry Bunnell, Wendell Honeycutt, Marlin Witcher, Marna Kirkpatrick, Sherry Eubanks, and Freddie Norris understood that depleting a reserve or borrowing money for a water park was not at all a sound business decision.
If nothing else, Gaunce is determined to get what he wants for his friends. So, a few months later a lighter version of the water park was introduced and this time was called the amphitheater/farmers market project. This project had a price tag of somewhere around $2M for the city, and a considerable amount of work was going to be placed on city employees at a time when it was known the city would be losing more than $700K in annual occupational taxes. Gaunce once again attempted to secure enough votes to go against Armstrong and the city’s finance people to spend any excess funds or put the city in debt.
Just imagine how much trouble our town would be in right now, with the current COVID-19 issue, if Armstrong had allowed Gaunce to funnel another building project to his friends and placed the city in debt.
On Election Day here in Glasgow, you will have the opportunity to cast a vote to help this EPB mess go away. We all know our ability to attract new industry has direct ties to the attentiveness of our town square and livability of Glasgow. Nobody wants to join a community that has been fighting for six years over whether our electric rates are competitive or not.
If you support Gaunce and his efforts to keep Ray and Taylor in charge, then you will need to vote for Gaunce, Angela Briggs, Josh Fields, and Robert Oliver. I don’t think Oliver is controlled by Gaunce like Briggs and Fields surely are, but he has been honest in his feelings for keeping Ray in control.
If you support Armstrong in honoring the majority of the board’s decision to explore other options including removing Ray, then you should vote for Wendell Honeycutt, Marlin Witcher, Marna Kirkpatrick, Terry Bunnell, Sherri Eubank, Freddie Norris, and Keith Rowlett.
There are names I haven’t mentioned because I honestly believe they can be influenced by the majority of those voting. They don’t have a clear loyalty to one side or the other.
If for some reason a candidate believes I have misrepresented their position, keep in mind that the Barren County Progress has another issue prior to the November 3 election, and we would happily print your comments in defending your position.
I for one look forward to it being over – one way or the other.