David Crum was elected Greene County Mayor in 2014. Before that, he served one term on the Greene County Commission representing the 8th District. He also retired from a 27-year career in law enforcement when becoming mayor.
Crum decided to not run for re-election this year. Below is his question-and-answer session with The Greeneville Sun as he prepares to leave office.
What are some accomplishments in this past year that you are most proud of?
As we look to the past, it illustrates the importance of looking to the future for capital improvements and planning to ultimately save money. During the past year there have been many accomplishments our county has achieved and can be proud. Although it may seem incidental, to me the replacement and repairs of the courthouse roof and steps there and at the election office were important.
The maintenance and repairs to our facilities are important for the long-term condition of our buildings. The roof leaked for many years and caused damage. The leak has been stopped and overtime repairs will be completed.
Working with economic development locally, at the state level and with our municipalities has created opportunities. Being able with the Executive Committee at (the Greene County) Partnership to recruit Matt Garland, who brings experience working at the state level, and bringing that experience to our community has helped retain and meet expectations of that position. Matt is not the flashy recruiter that is going to be seen in front of the camera, but brings an experience in economic development and knowing the key people at the state level to impact jobs in our community.
Facilitating the FastTrac money through economic development helped keep Forward Air here and for them to expand. Working with Greeneville and Mosheim to try and develop properties on Morgan Road, Towne Crossing and exit 23. The exit 23 development is the most promising with potentially (the) greatest impact for our county economically.
Also working with the Tourism and Sports Council to bring the Junior College World Series to our community was a great success.
As your term comes to a close, how has the county improved under your leadership?
The have been many opportunities that I think — working with our County Commission, other elected officials and members of our community that step up to serve on committees and projects — that we have greatly improved.
One area that I believe will have a long-term impact that is not visible by most is that I have appointed new members to our water districts. I felt when I was elected and so were many new county commissioners, it was our community giving a vote for change.
I appreciate the many years of service those individuals who were on water districts served. However, I felt change was the message sent by the community. The water commission districts select members from within their district and bring the mayor a list of three names for appointment. I never refused a list from the district, always selecting one of their recommendations but selecting new members. I think change can put new life into organizations.
Also I have attempted to appoint many new members to our standing committees such as Planning and the Zoning and Appeals. The makeup of many of my appointments have been younger and female in an attempt to diversify our decision-makers.
Also the implementation of the $1 fee for vaccinations to dogs and cats I believe will greatly improve our animal control department. The fee has allowed them to purchase vehicles at a cost that will be reimbursed by that fee. Also, in the long run it will allow for fencing and possibly even expansion of the facility. Also, the working relationship with the Humane Society to have all adoptions going through them has created a unique working relationship that has been mutually beneficial to both organizations.
The approval of a full-time county attorney and a human resource director will have long-term improvements. The attorney being full time to review contracts has proven that if accepted without the benefit of legal review may not have been in long-term best interest of the county. Some standard contracts, we have found, hold the supplier harmless even if they are at fault in the product or service we are paying.
Also, the human resource director has already worked to implement required processes for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. A neighboring community spent $40,000 with a consulting firm to do the study for their county to comply. Erin (Chandler) has completed ours and changes are being made with our maintenance department to implement.
One example is the 911/Building and Zoning facility did not have a handicapped accessible restroom. Modifications have been made and that building is now in compliance. Also our county website was not in compliance and upgrades have been made with our web provider BIS, Business Information Systems, making it ADA compliant.
What are you looking forward to accomplishing with your remaining time in office?
I have had conversations with Sheriff (Pat) Hankins, Director of Schools David McClain and some commissioners regarding the desire to have sworn POST-certified law enforcement officers with additional training as school resource officers protecting our children.
No one wants to suggest a tax increase, but I am going on record and willing to take the lead that our children are too important to hesitate at the cost to protecting them. Our children do not have a voice in attending school. Our children must be protected.
I have asked our sheriff to come up with a plan that will allow us to properly implement the addition of school resource officers into all of our schools to include the Greene Tech Center and (T.H. McNeese Educational Center) facility.
An additional benefit to having these officers is the possibility of improving church security. There have been many conversations, and I know several churches have active committees attempting to improve the safety of those attending our churches.
There are not enough extra officers in our county to provide off-duty security at churches that may desire to hire officers to attend Sunday or other special events. These SROs would be working Monday through Friday and some may be available and willing to work these extra off-duty jobs.
Time passes quickly, but one project I am trying to determine is viability of the county having its own fuel depot. Most of our departments use a vehicle fueling process called Fuelman that operates like a credit/debit card. The vehicle operator fuels up charging against the card and the charges are verified then paid. Preliminary estimates show a substantial saving, possibly $60,000-plus, may be achievable by us purchasing fuel in bulk and storage at a central facility for fueling our vehicles.
What does the future hold for you?
There are no immediate plans for my next job. I approached a second term as I did the decision to run for first. (My wife) Louise and I prayed and discussed my running. My greatest supporter is my wife, Louise, and I have been tremendously blessed by her. The decision became clear to me that I was to not run for a second term.
I greatly appreciate the support of those who have spoken to me with encouragement and kind words of this decision. I joke that I don’t do drugs, won’t steal from you and will show up for work — what job do you have? I believe I bring some skills from 27 years in law enforcement and four years as county mayor that I can be productive and improve whatever organization that I have an opportunity to become a part.
Where do you hope to see improvements made in the county in the future?
The educational and training opportunities for our future may be the greatest we have at this point in time. When I meet with economic developers and fellow mayors, our county and region is seen as declining. When we look at Middle Tennessee and urban areas, we see tremendous growth. All one has to do is drive by manufacturing facilities and see jobs are available. The opportunity to improve the work readiness of our high-school graduates is of critical importance.
We must ask ourselves and the children in our community, what opportunities must we provide to help them be successful? We must provide the education and training to make them successful to stay here and be a viable workforce. We must provide recreational and leisure activities that will entice young people to stay and others to move to our community.
Are there any additional comments you’d like to make?
I would like the thank Greene County for allowing me to serve as your mayor. During my term, I know there have been many decisions or suggestions I have made (with which) individuals may not have agreed. I would like to quote Tommy Casteel, mayor of Baileyton, who once told me, “David, I don’t always agree with you, but I know you put a lot of thought in your decisions.” That along with a belief that I hope all of my decisions were made in the best interest of Greene County and not from a self-serving standpoint. I have tried to make my time in office from a viewpoint of public service rather than politics.
I wish my successor and all those who are willing to run for office much success to move our county forward.