October 10, 2018

The two newly elected Johnson County
officials; Sheriff Eddie Tester, left, and Mayor Mike Taylor are posing for a photo during a recent rally in Johnson City. Submitted photo

 

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

It has now been one month since Johnson County’s new mayor, and the sheriff took office and some things are noticeably different while others remain the same.

“As the Chairman of the County Commission,” said Mayor Mike Taylor, “I had some knowledge of the many things that were handled in the Mayor’s office, but until you sit in the mayor’s chair, you don’t know exactly how many things come across your desk daily.”

A year ago, Taylor was teaching sixth-grade students at Mountain City Elementary School. He now spends much of his time wooing tourists, industry, and jobs to Johnson County.

Adhering to his campaign motto, “Focused on our Future,” Mayor Taylor hit the ground running. “My first month involved following up on some projects that were in progress,” said Taylor, “and meeting as a member of various boards and regional committees that includes several mayors.”

While the office maintains the same hours and open- door policy, a new executive assistant, Beth Cox, welcomes visitors and keeps everything organized.“Honored,” is the word Taylor would use when describing his first month on the job.

“As the chief financial officer of the county and responsible for many things that directly affect the lives of many people,” said Taylor. “I feel honored for the trust the voters have extended to me.”

When asked about possible improvements, Mayor Taylor is quick to mention the lack of space. “If you have visited the courthouse lately, it is obvious that the lack of space challenges all the courthouse staff,” he said. “As the courts have grown and the amount of use the courthouse gets, space is at a premium.”

Taylor feels that at some point the county government will have to look at addressing the issue.

While still getting acclimated to the new position, the new mayor is already exploring growth opportunities. “One of my goals is to have more retail opportunities in our community,” explained Mayor Taylor, who recently attended the Retail Academy in Nashville. “I have spent a good amount of time following up on leads, making phone calls pitching our community to retailers,” he said. “I am hopeful that these efforts will bring positive results in the future.”

When Eddie Tester was sworn in as the new Johnson County Sheriff soon after winning the seat in the August election, he had some lofty ideas about what he wished to accomplish as lead law enforcement officer for the county.
With the first month in office under this belt, Tester is quick to point out the office of sheriff is bigger than himself.

“It also consists of my employees and the citizens of Johnson County,” he said, “to whom I was elected to serve.” Sheriff Tester came into the job with more than 28 years of experience in law enforcement in addition to extensive training as a firefighter and an EMS paramedic. “It is an absolute pleasure to do what I love to do in my hometown,” the sheriff said. “I have a fully staffed department with certified officers and jail staff that are working hard every day to provide safety and security to all the citizens of the Johnson County.”

When he first took office, Tester says, he chose to set some broad goals including tackling the ongoing drug epidemic plaguing Johnson County. “I work alongside my officers every day,” he said, “to combat this epidemic and reduce the crime rate within our communities.” Sheriff Tester has also implemented a K9 program consisting of three fully trained and certified K9 and K9 handlers, which will enhance tracking, officer safety, and drug and explosive detections.

With this office comes huge responsibility, but Eddie Tester is determined to make a difference. “As of date I have implemented some goals that I had prior to being elected your sheriff,” said Tester, “and I have other goals that I will continue to pursue that will benefit not only the sheriff’s office but the community as a whole.”