Willis re-elected in Queenstown
QUEENSTOWN — Incumbent Queenstown Commissioner Tom Willis won his reelection bid against writein challenger Paul Cain on Monday, Nov. 5, in a 52 to 48 victory with three votes deemed invalid.
Willis will serve a threeyear term with fellow Town Commissioners Hogie Schuster and Alton Hardee Jr. According to Willis this is also an opportunity to continue the numerous projects facing the town.
“We’ve started some programs and annexed land, and I would like to see how far we can go in the next three years with that,” said Willis. “Queenstown needs smart growth. You don’t want to start building things for tax purposes. With commercial growth, it’s a win for the town because we give them public utilities and they give us tax money.”
Willis admitted he expected a closely contested election, but not the four-vote margin that ultimately gave him the victory. This will be Willis’ third consecutive term as town commissioner starting with his successful election in 2012 and his fourth overall as he also served from 1995 to 1998.
He was quick to note the close total was a reminder that town commissioners need to keenly be aware of issues faced by constituents. He urged the public to attend the regular meetings by commissioners to share their concerns with their elected officials.
“My philosophy about campaigning hasn’t changed. I just concerned myself with whatever needed to be done like roads, town growth, the water tower or the waste water plant or whatever else it was. I didn’t really spend much time campaigning because I was always available to (constituents),” Willis said.
Willis stressed the importance of approaching issues wisely and with the proper context. Specifically in matters with legal implications, town commissioners must comply with the course of action dictated town attorney Brynja Booth. Failure to do so, according to Willis, results in setting a precedent that puts the town at a disadvantage in future dealing.
Willis congratulated Cain for a strong campaign and said he looked forward to addressing any concerns presented to him or the rest of the commissioners.
For his part, Cain said he was surprised by the close election, but he took that as a sign the public wanted a change from the usual representation.
“Such a close election just shows there’s many people that are upset with what commissioners are doing,” said Cain. “There are many people unhappy with neighbors, high water bills, taxes and different things the town has going on. For me to be so successful after just 10 days that I put myself on the ballot is impressive.”
Cain explained the groundswell of support for his candidacy came partly from those seeking a more proactive town commissioner, especially in area of code enforcement and maintaining the overall charm of the town.
While Cain’s own impetus to run for office started with that as his focus, it was not long before other residents spoke of their issues with the current commissioners.
“People were upset about commissioners not doing things, and then I found other reasons why people wanted another candidate as I went house to house,” Cain said.
Cain said he will continue to attend the town commission meetings to spotlight issues around the community and has not ruled out another campaign for a seat as a commissioner next year.