Phil Gentry is a candidate to fill the vacancy in the 8th Greene County Commission District.
Gentry, 63, of 1205 Alice St., Greeneville, has been married to Pam Gentry for 39 years and has two children, Chad Gentry (deceased) and Amber Scarbro.
He also has three grandchildren: Brayden, Ryleigh Grace and Brody, with the fourth grandchild due on Nov. 6th, Election Day.
He graduated from Science Hill High School and attended East Tennessee State University.
He is retired from The Greeneville Sun.
Gentry was elected to serve on the Greeneville Civil Service Board by city firemen and police officers.
He served as a lieutenant in the Greeneville Auxiliary Fire Department.
He has received numerous photography awards over the past years from the Tennessee Press Association and the Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors.
Gentry is an honorary member of the Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad, is Past Master of Greeneville Masonic Lodge #3, is past president of the Greeneville Shrine Club, and is a member of Baptist Builders and the AIDNET of Greene County Board of Directors.
He provided the following answers to these questions asked of all the County Commission candidates by The Greeneville Sun:
Sun: Why are you interested in holding this office?
Gentry: After Brenda Grogan passed away, I was called and asked if I would run to fill out her term. Brenda and I were close friends, and I could think of no better way to honor her than by sitting in her seat for the remainder of her term.
Once I agreed to run, many people have encouraged me.
Sun: How do you believe the county should address the overcrowding at the Greene County Detention Center?
Gentry: The commission is looking into different ways to solve this problem, looking at the old Magnavox plant or building a new jail.
I could support either of these overcrowding solutions, but it must be funded without having to raise the property taxes on the citizens of Greeneville and Greene County.
Sun: Other than the jail overcrowding problem addressed above, what three issues do you believe are most pressing for the county government at this time? Please summarize your position on these issues.
Gentry: The county budget keeps growing, and so does the payroll. Health care costs for county employees are a big part of that.
The county needs to provide essential services, roads, law enforcement and schools, but every dollar needs to be spent on the right things, and we need to make sure we get the most bang for each buck.
I live with a checkbook and a budget at home, and I think we ought to be responsible for what we spend. We need to be accountable for our Greene County dollars.
Sun: Do you support the County Commission's recent decision to increase property taxes? Why or why not? Under what circumstances, if any, do you believe you would support another property tax increase in the next two years?
Gentry: I was not in favor of the recent 20-cent property tax that was voted in.
I wish they would have tried a $10 Wheel Tax, which I think would have been approved instead of the $20 dollar Wheel Tax that was voted on. The Wheel Tax is the fairest to all people, not putting all the burden on the property-owners.
When the vote on the 13-cent property tax failed and then it jumped to 20 cents, which was approved, I think we should have tried 14 cents, then 15 cents until an amount could be found to solve the current problem.
Sun: Do you have confidence in the effectiveness and ethics of the current County Commission? How do you believe the public's level of confidence in the County Commission can be increased?
Gentry: I have complete confidence in the ethics of our commissioners and believe we must listen to the people of Greene County and try to be fair, open-minded and out in the open about everything that comes before the commission.
Sun: What are three goals you would hope to accomplish during your time in office?
* I won't vote on anything I don't understand.
* I will ask enough questions, even if they might seem dumb.
* I will do my best to complete my term and have a little fun while trying to be serious, too.
Sun: Would you be open to questions and concerns from the public? How would you make yourself available to the public for questions, complaints, etc.?
Gentry: Open to questions? Sure. I'm out in the community all the time, and people have always talked to me. I've always learned the most about most things from talking to people, and, if I'm elected, that won't change.
People can also write me at my home address if they wish (1205 Alice St,. Greeneville 37743).
Sun: What qualities make you a good candidate for this position?
Gentry: My wife and I have made Greeneville and Greene County our home for 32 years, by choice. We have made friends and tried to help when and where we could.
As a photographer, I have watched the commission at work for many years. If elected, I will try to be a help there, too.
Brief final comment, if you wish.
Gentry: If elected, I will do my best not to let the people down who voted for me, and not to let Brenda down.