Neill, White not running for re-election

Friday, March 19, 2010

With the announcement Thursday that Marshall County's commission chairman is running for the state House of Representatives, the number of county commissioners who leave open seats for the Aug. 5 election is now seven.

That's nearly 39 percent of the 18-member commission. There are now 35 people who have obtained petitions to run for the 18 seats, but they include at least one who won't be filing. Noon April 1 is the deadline for candidates to file petitions with the election office.

Commissioners who aren't running include:

* Mary Ann Neill of Smiley Road, Chapel Hill, the immediate past chair of the commission who succeeded Sam Smith and led the county Ethics Committee through a series of meetings over several months. She represents District 1 with Dean Delk.

* Tony White of New Columbia Road, Lewisburg, who was appointed to the commission to succeed Joe Berry Brandon in October 2008 and represent the 6th District with Jimmy Stitt who's previously announced he's not running for re-election.

* Billy Spivey of Phillips Street, Lewisburg, who succeeded Jennifer Harris in June 2008 when she resigned and he was appointed by the commission to represent the 5th District with Don Ledford who is running for re-election. Spivey is running for the state House of Representatives. He was elected chairman of the commission in September.

* Stitt, Larry McKnight, Richard Medley and Scottie Poarch had announced they would not run for re-election. Stitt and Medley have young children to raise. McKnight said he'd serve one term. Poarch is running for county mayor.

Neill became a grandmother and says the child is now the focus of her life.

In 2009, factions developed on the commission. Political infighting became more evident with split votes and statements made only if the speaker wouldn't be identified.

Neill reacted: Those who contend her decision against running is because she was afraid of losing were wrong. Instead, Neill was afraid to run because she might win and have to serve four more years.

"My life is complete without the commission," she said.

Neill's decision was made last year when her first grandchild, Madison, now 13 months, was born to John and Ashley Neill.

"The months between 18 months and five years are the most formative years and I would be missing that," Neill said about serving another four-year term.

White issued a statement about stepping aside. It reflects the long-time dairy farmer's priorities.

He's been re-elected president of the Tennessee Dairy Producers Association, a new organization that in one year recruited more than 40 percent of the dairy farmers in Tennessee.

"TDPA along with the Tennessee Farm Bureau was responsible for the passage of the Tennessee Prime Milk bill," legislation that addresses blends of milk from producers, White's announcement said.

The TDPA will be working on the wording of the 2012 Farm Plan and looking for new ways to represent dairy farmers and help animal agriculture, White said.

His duties with the TDPA and his own dairy will prevent him from giving his full attention to problems facing the county, White said.

As a commissioner, White was instrumental in keeping the Jersey dairy herd at the Dairy Research Center on New Lake Road, preventing its transfer to Spring Hill and another University of Tennessee research center.

"I appreciate the opportunity to serve Marshall County and will continue to do so to the best of my ability until my replacement in the fall," White said.