BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
Spring Hill’s first city-wide election since 2017 begins on Thursday at 7 a.m., where residents will have the opportunity to vote in who they feel would best serve the city’s needs.
As election day draws closer, the Home Page has reached out to all running candidates one last time, asking what they believe to be their biggest issues and platforms.
Election day Thursday will last from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., and will include three voting locations instead of one, potentially helping offset the early low turnout. Voting locations include the Winchester Community Building at 562 Maury Hill St., the Longview Recreation Center at 2909 Commonwealth Drive, and Spring Hill High School at 1 Raider Lane in Columbia.
To view a sample ballot, click here, or to view a machine sample ballot, click here. To brush up further on the candidates running for office, click here to view the Home Page’s previous coverage of the Meet the Candidates Forum.
John Canepari / Ward 1
The thing I can promise is I will do my best to keep tabs on the spending, try to find places in the budget where we can save some money or find some money, use my 49 years of experience working with people and leading people as a department head and as a troop commander… I can get some compromises maybe on making some adjustments, but other than that, I’m just for slow growth. I know we can’t stop growth, but I would definitely not be in favor of anything that changes or rezones anything that’s on the books now. I don’t think we need more houses, we need more businesses.
Why I should be elected is I bring 49 years of experience to the table; I’ve lived in six cities, I’ve taken city commissions apart when I was working with the [Inspector General]’s office. You talk about things that were hidden in budgets, that was my job. I’ve run companies as a chief operating officer, I’ve been department heads where I had 280 people reporting to me and I had to to the budgets for them, annual reviews – I know the system.
Liz Droke / Ward 1
I want to do everything I can do to keep Spring Hill affordable. People don’t move to Spring Hill because it’s Franklin, it’s Spring Hill; it’s young families, and it’s affordable. I’m very disappointed about the tax increase being passed before the new board is seated, however, with the sunset clause (which reverts the property tax back to its original amount after certain projects are funded), I’ve made it my mission to do everything I can, apply for every grant, every budget cut that can be made to get those ten-year capital improvement projects paid off so that that tax increase can fall back off.
The first thing I would do would be working to get a compensation plan in place for grant writers – right now there’s not one. Also, would like to seriously look at the expenditures column in the budget as far as marketing. I love marketing, my degree is in mass communications and advertising, but I don’t think we need to be marketing to people to try to get them to move to Spring Hill when the current citizens are having trouble moving around in town because it’s so packed.
The third thing that I want to do is to do employee reviews from the top down for the city. How do we know who is going above and beyond and deserves to be rewarded, how do we know who is a drain on their department and really making a department sluggish? We don’t know that without performance reviews.
Alex Jimenez / Ward 1
I think the most important issues that I was hearing about that pushed me over the ledge is our public safety; firefighters, police officers, and having the ability to be properly staffed. I want to see Spring Hill focus a little more on taking care of the grass roots that we already have here. Our small businesses I feel is an important thing that we need to interact [with] as a city to figure out what it is we can do to help them, help them grow and help them remain a staple of our community.
We [also] need to pivot and communicate with people the most effective way possible, which is a combination of print form, electronic form, social media platforms, email – things like that.
Bryan Watt / Ward 1
I’m running because I want to help people. I believe that I’m a good communicator, I would love the opportunity to speak with citizens and work with the mayor and fellow aldermen to find out what’s in the best interest of our city.
My belief is a lot of us are having to travel 30 – 45 minutes to work, and coming from a manufacturing [and] industrial background, I would be happy to call these businesses and have them come here and pitch to them Spring Hill’s demographic, whether that be trying to contact a bowling alley, or trying to contact a manufacturer to come here to open a new business.
It’s a bit premature, I did speak to John Schneider about it, but I’m in the process of trying to set up another festival with like a John Schneider, Kid Rock, Whey Jennings – Whey Jennings told me he would be interested, that’s Waylon Jennings son – we would have a festival with star power here in Spring Hill, with a portion of those proceeds going to Spring Hill parks with a mindset to allow for more opportunities for disability citizens at these parks. I’ve had several Spring Hill citizens with disabilities reach out to me personally and say that they would like to see better opportunities because now they’re limited.
Matt Fitterer / Ward 2
Back in 2015 when I first ran, I wanted to focus on quality of life improvements; that’s roadway infrastructure, that’s water and sewer utility infrastructure, staffing, supplying our first responders, preserving our historic path, and simply put, that work is not finished. I think over the past four years we’ve taken some pretty significant strides in getting the right documents in place, getting the right tools in place, and now it’s time for the rubber to meet the road so to speak. Now it’s time for us to go out and actually deliver projects for citizens.
I want construction on the interchange to begin, I want to ensure we address our long term water and sewer needs from a permitting perspective with the state, and begin construction on any additions to either plant that we need, and I want to ensure that we get our first responders into the TCRS Bridger Program. [It’s] a program that allows first responders to retire a little bit sooner, so it does a couple of good things; it offers incentive for people to come work here versus other communities, it keeps our fire and police workforce younger, which in turn keeps them healthier, and it takes care of the guys that have long served the city.
Dan Allen / Ward 3
We need to seize a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build an interchange at I-65 and Buckner Road now. Investing in this critical infrastructure project will allow the private sector to create a mixed-use economic engine that will build our commercial property tax base and dramatically enhance our retail sales tax revenue. This proven, economic approach to investing in infrastructure creates a foundation to keep our taxes low while generating the needed revenue to fund our future, without having to max out the city’s credit card. We cannot tax ourselves into prosperity, and we must stay focused on priorities over amenities.
Spring Hill needs better and smarter regulation of growth. During my career, I have served nearly 8 years in public service between Spring Hill and Franklin. While working at Franklin, I personally reviewed and regulated great mixed-use projects such as Westhaven, Berry Farms, Franklin Park, and Meridian. I have seen the unique challenges associated with these types of projects and can bring a wealth of experience to the BOMA to create a better future for Spring Hill.
If you have a heart problem, you go see a cardiologist. Spring Hill needs better infrastructure, and I design and build infrastructure for a living. My name is Dan Allen, and I would appreciate your vote on April 11th.
Susan Zemek / Ward 3
Once that interchange comes in, we have such a great opportunity to bring corporations here, so we will truly be able to live, work and play here – but those corporations are not going to come if we don’t have amenities. They’re not going to move their employees 2,000 miles away from home to a city that doesn’t have enough parks, that doesn’t have enough ballfields for their kids to play in. We need a sportsplex here – Ridley Park in Columbia is an excellent example of how a city came together, built this wonderful sportsplex, and they have tournaments every weekend. Well guess what? That fills up our hotels, those people are eating in our restaurants, so the tax base there that we’re bring in the dollars for the sportsplex [would] just be phenomenal. It’s not just a want, this is a true need that our city could benefit greatly from.
[Also], for people to have a good existence, they need to get from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time. Our big thing is creating arterial roads so that people can stay off 31. What I’m going to do to tap the brakes so we can catch up on roads and infrastructure, is I consistently vote no on rezoning property.
Doug Holtz / Ward 4
I am ready to serve the citizens of Spring Hill. I have served as a citizen representative on the traffic advisory committee for the past 2 years and have had a small impact on traffic issues around town. I ask you to let me be your voice on the BOMA where an even bigger impact can be made.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Colossians 3:23-24 NIV
These values are the guiding principles in my life. Leadership occurs within the context of these core values. As a leader, I guide and facilitate others to make a positive difference in their own lives and to contribute to a larger good. By focusing on what people believe and value, and then positively building on this understanding, we all have the potential for impact far wider than if we approached leadership development as a problem-solving activity.
Hazel Nieves / Ward 4
My slogan is I’m the right person, at the right time, for the right reason. I say that because I’ve been involved in my community in a very meaningful way through not only my business Spring Hill Fresh, which is all about our community, but I have also been involved in many committees, groups, organizations, colleges, so I feel like I have a very good understanding of what the issues are here in Spring Hill. I think we’ve gotten away from remembering that city government and everything else here is for the citizens first. The citizens’ voice has been really loud and clear – going door to door, I’m hearing the same things over and over. The people here do not feel like the leadership is listening to them because we continue down a path that they don’t want to see. People come here in our community, they buy a home – they invest in our community, but they also invest in a quality of life, and I see that quality of life is slipping away, because people are not enjoying living here – they’re bearing with living here.
I’m all about the roads, public safety, certainly the local economy and local businesses being a business person myself, but I am really coming from the standpoint of we need a timeout, and we need to reevaluate where we are, and where we’re going. I think we’ve lost focus of that. I don’t see the management that’s necessary in our city to produce the kinds of results for a city that’s designed for success for its citizens, rather than a city that is just full of sprawl, activity, and now, overcapacity.