Alderman hopefuls asked: Fix potholes and/or build stadium venue?

Rick Wagner • Mar 23, 2019 at 1:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Which should be a higher priority in Kingsport: Fixing potholes or building a stadium and outdoor venue downtown?

That question, specifically whether the stadium should be delayed until a better pothole patch program is funded, generated varied responses from the five alderman candidates who attended a forum at the Kiwanis Club of Kingsport Friday. 

A sixth candidate, Darell Duncan, was unable to attend due to illness, Kiwanis officials said.

The hopefuls for three seats with four-year terms are:

• Christopher Bulle, who works for Bank of Tennessee and is a member of PEAK, Professionals Engaged in Advancing Kingsport, a young professionals organization.

“I think it’s plausible to do both” pothole repair and the stadium, Bulle said. “When you hit one (a pothole), you feel like the soul went out of your body.” However, he said the outdoor venue is needed, and both could be done but on a slower schedule.

• Duncan, who is a real estate agent, retired Eastman employee and former alderman. 

• Charles Honaker Jr., who owns Millennium Auto Collision. He said potholes need to be a priority and repaired correctly, while the stadium, if built, should cater to soccer, not so much to baseball.

• Chris Mills, who is a maintenance worker at Walmart. “Our first priority should be be the potholes,” Mills said. He noted that other outdoor venues are available, including Hunter Wright Stadium.

• Tommy Olterman, who is a current alderman, former Sullivan County commissioner and retired economic development specialist. He said the paving budget has gone from $600,000 to $2.45 million per year, but there still is a 20-year paving rotation. “There’s a limited pot of money,” he said.

• James Phillips, who is a developer, entrepreneur and the son of former Mayor Dennis Phillips. “What’s the point of having the most beautiful roads with nobody to drive on them?” He said the multipurpose stadium could be used 300 days a year and would draw folks to downtown and to Kingsport in general.

The five aldermen candidates also expressed support for maintaining and improving K-12 and postsecondary education, including career technical education. Their answers to all six questions are available in a video on the club’s Facebook page, which also has a video of the March 15 Kingsport Board of Education forum.

Candidates in the mayoral race are Joe Carr, Dennis Mabb, Vice Mayor Mike McIntyre, Pat Shull and Nathan Vaughn. A Kiwanis mayoral forum is set for March 29.

The city election is May 21, and early voting is May 1-16.