Against a backdrop of accomplishments in the past eight years, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto announced his bid for a third term.
“I’m running for re-election because I enjoy helping people,” Hutto said. “We’ve accomplished a lot over the past eight years, including last year, when we balanced the general fund budget and achieved an AA+ bond rating. We looked as far back as we were able, and records indicate that this is the first time this has happened in our county’s history. Only six other counties in Tennessee have that rating. We worked hard at cutting the budget as much as possible and building up the fund balance.”
Wilson County’s fund balance has grown from less than $1 million in 2010, when Hutto first took office, to more than $8 million currently. During the same time, the county’s bond rating went from AA to AA with a positive outlook to the current AA+. The Wilson County Commission recently passed a resolution that prohibits spending below the fund balance without a two-thirds majority vote.
“We’ve been able to balance the budget, while providing the best service possible on the least amount of revenue. Our efforts to expand tourism in the county have been successful and have led to a significant increase in revenue from visitors, as well as an increase in our sales tax revenue as more people shop locally. These factors have allowed us to be able to lighten the burden on property owners and generate a budget surplus to help Wilson County prepare for future growth,” Hutto said. “All of which has contributed to improving our education, public safety and quality of life – areas that will continue to be my top priority.
“We have been successful at creating more jobs and expanding economic opportunities across the county. With the addition of more than 6,300 new jobs in our county, it has generated an additional $988 million in economic investments here.”
Leveraging his more than 25 years of administrative and teaching experience and building consensus in the community, Hutto has been able to work with the Wilson County Board of Education and Wilson County Commission to complete a school building program, provide every school with a school resource officer, increase the school board from five to seven members, and help the board of education fund its differentiated teacher pay plan, which helped to attract and retain quality teachers.
Before he was elected Wilson County mayor in 2010, Hutto served as assistant superintendent of schools for the Lebanon Special School District from 2003-2010 and was a teacher and coach at Lebanon High School from 1985-2002.
“Our effort to place an SRO in every school is a model for other Tennessee counties. In addition, the school renovations that were part of the progressed education building program, created a safety vestibule where someone can’t just walk into a school, but rather must go through the office. We currently have no portables, which increases safety, because students aren’t walking outside, to and from buildings,” Hutto said.
“Increasing teacher pay increased our teacher retention rate to 97 percent. The county pay plan has also enabled Wilson County to obtain and retain quality personnel across all areas of county government.”
Wilson County was able to get a Level 4 Insurance Services Office rating, because the county prioritized the importance of cross-trained emergency personnel, added three new Wilson County Emergency Management stations and converted an existing volunteer station to a live around-the-clock station.
“Not only have these public safety improvements helped lower response times for both rural and urban areas, but the Level 4 ISO rating saves Wilson County residents money on their homeowners’ insurance,” Hutto said.
Hutto said quality education and public safety services contribute to better quality of life for Wilson County residents, as well as a $2.5 million expansion to the Mt. Juliet Library, the Wilson County Veterans Museum and Park, Wilson County Expo Center and a new county parks board.
“The library expansion was very much needed in the Mt. Juliet area. We built the Veterans Museum and Park as a way to honor our veterans,” Hutto said.
“Prior to the Expo Center, many Wilson County residents traveled out of town to go to events. Now, the quality of life for folks in our communities is increased because we have the Expo Center holding a variety of events. It allows residents to attend events close to home and generates sales tax dollars that provide services to our citizens.”
In addition to his continued focus on education, public safety and quality of life, Hutto said he will increase transparency on the inner workings of local government and work with the Tennessee Department of Transportation on road improvements and future infrastructure, while recruiting more better-paying jobs.
“At the end of the day, my administration believes in four things. We believe investing in people will always yield the best return on investment. We strive for great customer service. We believe in giving back. And, we want to provide our residents with a great place to live, so you can do one of the most important things in life, and that’s spending time with your family,” Hutto said.
Hutto has received numerous awards, including certified public administrator degree, Greater Nashville Regional Council Maynard Pate Regional Leadership Award, Judge T.O. Bond Achievement Award, Nashville Business Journal Business Impact Award twice, Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Alumni Award and Wilsonian of the Year. He served as Metropolitan Planning Organization chairman, Greater Nashville Regional Council president and Four Lakes Regional Authority Organization chairman. Hutto is a graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee and a former Lebanon Breakfast Rotary member.
Hutto graduated from Watertown High School and earned a bachelor of science degree from Middle Tennessee State University. Hutto also earned a master of education from Trevecca Nazarene University. He and his wife of more than 31 years, Paula, have three children, two of whom have earned degrees from Tennessee State University and Tennessee Technological University and one who is currently attending Tennessee Tech. The Huttos live in Lebanon and are members of Immanuel Baptist Church, where he is a deacon and teaches Sunday school.
The Wilson County mayoral election will be Aug. 2, with early voting from July 13-28. Hutto will face former state Sen. Mae Beavers in the mayoral race.