Ownby hopes to stay involved, help city

Apr. 15, 2013 @ 12:03 AM

Incumbent Alderwoman Maxine Ownby, 77, took the seat after her husband, Claude, died in office. But she doesn’t plan to walk away after finishing out the term this year; instead, she’s seeking reelection.

“I want to stay involved, not just retire and stay at the house,” Ownby said.

Although Ownby admits that she doesn’t have a lot of political experience, she says the issues are not new to her.

“Claude, my soul mate, always discussed the issues, so they’re not new to me,” she said. “I feel like if I go on, I could do a great job because Claude discussed so many things with me.”

Although she said the city’s annual financial report “looks good” right now, Ownby emphasized bringing in more money for the city. She suggested marketing the events center more heavily, as well as developing further.

Ownby said the Dumplin Creek project is one way to develop more and increase finances.

“I know we’re going to have to pay on the CBID (Central Business Improvement District) soon, so I think this new development is going to be good and help the city if we can bring that to fruition,” Ownby said. “If it had materialized back when it all started, think of the tax dollars. It would have paid the debt.”

She also supports the Dumplin Creek project because it would create more jobs.

“We need jobs, and that could bring in jobs,” Ownby said. “Job-wise and financially, the project would be a very good thing for Sevierville. I think if we can secure our money to where we don’t stand to lose the taxpayer dollars, then I would be strongly in favor of it.”

Ownby noted that Sevierville has the ability to expand and draw in more businesses. For that to happen, she said, transportation issues need to be addressed.

“There’s still work to be done on the roads, and that is a major issue for a tourist area. We need more done in transportation. Extending Veterans (Boulevard) to Highway 66 is one thing to look at. It seems like a logical way to create more access to the three different cities. We certainly need to improve the road system, and that would be one possibility.”

Ownby said she would like to see more collaboration among the cities.

“That’s very important,” she said. “Right now it’s better than what it’s been, but I think we need joint meetings, because what benefits one benefits all. We need to work together.”

Ownby grew up in Sevier County. She graduated from Sevier County High School. She and her husband owned a custom frames store for several decades.

“I want to serve in Sevier County because I believe in service,” Ownby said. “If I don’t get this seat, I’ll still do volunteer work and give back to the community. I’m not ready to quit yet.”

rhargett@themountainpress.com