Thursday, August 25, 2016

Commissioner Ownby farewell speech

Jeff Ownby
(Outgoing Knox County Commissioner Jeff Ownby submitted his farewell speech to the ol' blog. I've included it below. In addition, outgoing Commissioner Amy Broyles submitted a speech to Knoxviews. You can find her speech right SMACK HERE.)

I first want to thank the people of the 4th District and Knox County for allowing me to serve you for the past 6 years, it has been my privilege and honor to do so. In my six years on commission I fought to try to keep Lakeshore Mental Hospital open. I knew if the hospital closed it would mean more mentally ill people on the streets or in our jails – and that is exactly what happened.

We need to build the Safety Center to take care of and help the mentally ill in our community get the services they need. I have always felt that the role of Government is to take care of the ones that can’t care for themselves. To me, that would be the mentally ill, our seniors, children, and our veterans. I have spent my time on Commission trying to help those that need it most be heard. I have fought for the students, parents and teachers to give them a voice for better Knox County Schools. I wasn’t the leader of the movement, but was glad to help give them a platform to speak from.

In the last six years this Commission and County Mayor Tim Burchett increased the schools budget by over 76 million dollars and paid down the County’s debt by over 90 million dollars during the same time period. We did this without raising the taxes of the citizens of Knox County. We also built 2 new schools (Northshore Elementary and Carter Elementary) paying cash for Carter Elementary. We approved the building of two new middle schools (Hardin Valley and Gibbs) and approved the expansion of several others, including Ball Camp Elementary and Pond Gap Elementary – all without raising taxes.

I have also worked hard in my district on such projects as the new guard rails on Lyons Bend Drive, which we have needed for years. I proposed and helped pass a resolution updating our Pet Ordinance, which mirrors the City Ordinance, to better take care of our four legged friends – protecting them from extreme cold and extreme hot weather.

In my six years on Commission, I have answered every phone call (or returned the call) of every citizen who ever contacted me – never asking where they lived, because I felt that I served the County not just one District. I know that my decisions and votes have not always made everybody happy, but they were always thought out and researched before making a decision. I believed and still do believe in growing this County with good development, good paying jobs and with companies relocating to Knox County. Our Home Builders and the Knoxville Chamber have done a great job in finding great Companies that have chosen to make Knox County their home.

I have made some good friends on Commission over the last six years. First, my total opposite, Commissioner Broyles. We may not have always agreed on issues, but personally she has been a great friend, and our friendship has grown over the last 6 years. I look forward to continuing our friendship. Second is Commissioner and current Chairman, Dave Wright. He has been a good leader for our commission (probably one of our best) and an even better friend. I will miss your friendship, Dave. Some of our new Commissioners, I wish I had more time with. Commissioner Smith and Schoonmaker, I wish you all the best. I have enjoyed your friendship this short time. To the ladies in the Commission Office, thank you so much for your friendship and for always taking care of anything I needed done.

I will still be involved in the community and will continue to be the voice for individuals and issues that need me. I love this community and want to see it continue to get better and better. I have made a lot of friends in the last six years and hope to continue to help them and be there for anybody that needs me.

I have also made some political enemy’s because my votes were my own – more independent thinking, and not always along party lines. I felt not everything is right or left, Republican or Democrat. Some would say I wasn’t involved enough, which is not true. I feel I was very involved and always tried my best to make this community better. I hope I left my district and our county better than when I found it.

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