About 150 residents attended the event.
Those attending included Democratic candidates Pam Edgemon, running for Bradley County Commission, 2nd District; Jeff Morelock, Bradley County Commission, 3rd District; Mark Neeley, Bradley County Commission, 5th District; Paul Krisle, Bradley County mayor; Steve Lawson, Bradley County sheriff; Janet Meek, East Tennessee coordinator; Jonathan Gladdon, Tennessee House of Representatives, 22nd Legislative District; Sally Love, Tennessee State Senate, 9th District; and, Brenda Short and Dr. Brent Staton, U.S. House of Representatives, 3rd Congressional District. Matt Moody spoke on behalf of gubernatorial candidate Mike McWherter.
Ron Moore, member of the Bradley County Democrats, gave a short speech before opening the floor to the candidates.
“We’re as conservative as any Republican in Bradley County,” Moore said. “We have liberal thoughts, but when it comes to our money we’re just as conservative.”
Mark Neeley said the needs for the local school systems is a concern driving him to run for the county commission.
“I had a school teacher come up to me the other day and talked to me about buying pencils and papers with her own money,” Neeley said. “There should be no school where teachers are having to take money out of their pockets to pay for pencils and paper for these kids to learn.”
Jeff Morelock, a native of Bradley County, has been in the insurance business for 35 years. He said the skills he has acquired over the past 35 years in managing a small business will enable him to be successful in the county commission.
“I understand how to run a small business; we’re still going in this depressed economy,” Morelock said. “I know how to work with employees and balance a budget.”
Morelock said as a past chairman of the Bradley-Cleveland Chamber of Commerce and incoming president of the Bradley County Incubator with Cleveland State Community College, he has a “working knowledge” of economic development in the county.
“I’m also for education and improved education. I’m for improved law enforcement and I’m for improved roads. I’m for progress in Bradley County,” Morelock said.
Pam Edgemon is a civil law mediator and has spent 14 years in the legal profession. She has worked closely with Mike McWherter in his political career.
“I will serve all the people, not just Democrats if elected,” Edgemon said.
Paul Krisle said Bradley County needs a candidate who is “one of the people.”
“I’m not bought and paid for by some people who have money and try to get things in here, such as the airport, things that most people don’t want,” Krisle said.
Krisle also said, if elected, before proposing a budget to the Bradley County Commission, residents will have 15 days to review the proposal on the his (mayor’s) website.
“I believe in transparency,” Krisle said . “You will be in charge of your government again.”
Jonathan Gladden is a student at the University of Knoxville and Chattanooga. He has a double major in pre-law and political science. Gladden’s name will not be on the ballot in August. He will be a “write-in” candidate.
Short said a major concern for her in Tennessee is unemployment and small business ownership. She said more focus needs to be driven towards the military and soldiers needs.
Dr. Brent Staton is a family medicine doctor at Erlanger Medical Center. Staton said the reason he is running for Congress is because of the “struggling patient” who has to decide whether to buy their needed prescriptions or pay for rent or utility bills.
“Times are very difficult for patients like this. I believe I I can make a larger difference in Washington than I can one at a time in my office,” Staton said.
Steve Lawson was introduced at the heritage dinner by his uncle and former sheriff Robert Lawson. Robert Lawson spoke of the leadership of former sheriff Lamar Lawson.
“More good has come out in this community because of Lamar Lawson’s leadership than any other man that I can remember. His son [Steve] was raised in that household. His son worked with us and his son knows what it means to work and be responsible,” Robert Lawson said.