January 19, 2006

Gallagher hits Blount Today

Democratic Candidate for Blount County Mayor, Joe Gallagher hit the papers with a splash. Last week Blount Today had this to say about the County Mayor race, citing that Gallagher is the only candidate speaking up for Democrats in the Mayor’s race compared to the three other Republican Candidates:

Joe Gallagher, 78, of Louisville, is a New York-native who moved to Blount County six years ago from Houston after a career as a television producer.

"I don’t know what sets me apart," he said. "I know what I stand for. Basically, my main goal is to have managed development in Blount County, to bring economic development that would be structured in a certain way or operate in certain area, not residential areas."

"That primarily is our goal, the future of Blount County as a scenic county. That’s No. 1. No. 2 is, we will have what I call conflict-interest-free government; that may be a utopia, some kind of fantasy, that’s something we have to work for," he said. "We have conflicts of interests at all levels. It’s something I hope we can get rid of. You see it on regular basis on the planning commission and county commission and how they deal with zoning questions and certain developments."

According to Gallagher, the county needs a leader now.

"In my judgment, the administration of the county has been catering to development, and that has to change. That would be my first priority, do things to change that direction," he said.

Gallagher, the only Democrat in the campaign, said he realized the Republican candidate often wins the office in Blount County.

"I recognize it is a long shot. My goal would be to be a lobbyist for the people," he said.

Gallagher said he didn’t expect to have much in the way of campaign financing. "I’ll have my hand out, and I imagine I’ll have enough support to conduct a modest campaign and develop visibility and hopefully get my message out. I don’t mind saying, I recognize my long-shot status," he said. Gallagher said he favors cutting the commission in half, from 21 members to 11 members.

"It’s still essential for a county mayor to be able to work with the county commission," he said. "I’ve had experience working with Vince Lombardi and long-time coach at Oklahoma Bud Wilkinson, and I’m sure I can work with the county commission."

Gallagher said the strength he would bring to the county mayor’s office would be creative leadership. He says his weakness is the fact he is not a native and that some people think he has only been here a couple of years. "Beginning with being a newcomer and having a Yankee accent are two things that work against me, and it shouldn’t matter," he said.