Land planning, that perennial lightening-rod topic in Macon County, will likely shape if not outright dominate the upcoming campaign for three of the five county commissioner seats.
Up for election in Macon this year are Republicans Kevin Corbin, Jimmy Tate and Democrat Bobby Kuppers.
The current five-member board has been mired in debates about land regulation, with opponents vigorously attempting to block any county efforts toward regulations, and proponents equally intent on seeing something — anything — put on Macon County’s books.
Chairman Kevin Corbin, a Republican who will seek re-election, said the land planning debate certainly dominates discussion. But he said there’s more to conducting the county business than any single issue.
“I think it’s part of it, and it gets a lot of attention. But the truth is, the county commissioner’s role is so broad,” Corbin said. “It’s only a part of what we are doing.”
That might be true, but there’s also no doubt that Macon County’s ongoing battle to determine what role, if any, the county will play in shaping development is going to be at play in this election.
“I think it will, and it’s a discussion that needs to be had,” said Democrat Commissioner Bobby Kuppers, who filed for re-election on Monday seeking a second four-year term in office. “I want us to have a good-spirited discussion.”
Kuppers is facing competition from a Democratic challenger, Rick Snyder, and said that he expects Republicans will vie for the seat, too.
“But I don’t know who that would be, but I’m sure that they will,” he said. “I’d be very surprised if there is not a Republican running.”
Snyder said that he was running because he thought there was “need for a new direction,” with an emphasis on job creation. Snyder manages properties in Macon County. He said land-planning issues, however, were not triggering or influencing his decision to run.
One of the current commissioners up for election, Republican Jimmy Tate, was previously a member of the planning board. He only recently was appointed to fill an empty seat on the board of commissioners. Tate, like most of the other candidates, said he does expect planning issues to heavily influence the upcoming election.
“I wish that weren’t true, but I think it will be,” the Highlands resident said.
Tate said he does believe in land planning, and that he believes there are ways for the county to move forward on the issue.
Musical chairs makes Macon election complicated
Macon County’s commission race is complicated to say the least.
Two of the three commissioners whose seats are up for election landed on the board of commissioners after being appointed — not elected — to fill vacancies left by outgoing commissioners in the middle of their terms.
Commissioner Jimmy Tate, who is from Highlands, has only been on the board for a couple of months. He was appointed to fill the seat of former Commissioner Brian McClellan, who resigned in November following his second DWI charge. Tate, if he indeed runs as expected, will be running to fill McClellan’s unexpired term: the seat will open again in 2014.
Kevin Corbin, in turn, was appointed to fill out the remainder of state Sen. Jim Davis’ term after the commissioner-turned-state-politician beat state Sen. John Snow, D-Murphy, during the last election. Corbin, who filed for election Monday, is not like Tate filling an unexpired term; his would last for the standard four years.