Article by Clay Crook-
The second Meet the Candidates Forum was held at the LHS auditorium on Monday night, July 9th, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and was broadcast live by WZLT 99.3 FM radio. Don Enochs, with WLZT 99.3, opened up the event which was co-sponsored by The Lexington Progress. The auditorium was well attended and near capacity. Local attorney, Sam Hinson, served as the moderator for the forum, introducing the Henderson County Mayor candidates first. The candidates spoke by pre-selected drawing: Kenneth Thomas, Eddie Bray, Ricky Gooch, Daniel Lewis, and Brian Scott. Each candidate was given two minutes for their introduction. Kenneth “Pap” Thomas is 53 years old, and born and raised in Lexington. He said that he worked for many years in the tire business with the Pope family and recognized many former classmates and customers in the crowd. Although he is the Democratic nominee, Thomas asked for voters not to look at him as a Democratic, but as a neighbor who wants to do great things for Henderson County. Eddie Bray took the podium next, thanking those present, and in the county, and for selecting him as the Republican nominee for County Mayor. He has served in the military, been a law enforcement officer, and serves as the Veterans Service Officer. Rickey J. Gooch, is 31 years old and was raised in Henderson County, working in fast food, security, and “just about any job you can think of.” He believes in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. Daniel Lewis appeared next, running Independent as a conservative Christian candidate. Lewis said that his MBA in accounting has helped his career in finance as well as a small business owner, and has been on the Henderson County Commission for the last ten years. Brian Scott was the last of the candidates, speaking about leadership, community, customer service, and his background in education, the ministry and contracting. He is running as a write-in candidate. After a break, the first questions were addressed to the candidates, each having three minutes to respond, and appeared in reverse order.
In what areas do you feel that Henderson County needs to expand economically? Scott indicated that the medical and technical fields needs to improve county wide, not just jobs, but good jobs that will draw others to the community and retain those who want to stay. Lewis talked about many recent blessings in increasing the local job market and feels that expanding local businesses and moving forward with workforce development, with welding, machine tool technology, and healthcare, getting children ready for those jobs economically. Gooch said he wanted to keep it simple, “keep it business friendly” as it was when industries were first recruited into the county. Bray advocated small business expansion, which he said leads to large business expansion. He also spoke about the megasite in the Haywood County area, supporting current industries, and recruiting others. Thomas said, in a word, “kids.” He wants the children of Henderson County to be able to have the simple joys in life, and move forward with things that will…
For the complete story, see the July 11th edition of The Lexington Progress.