Dresden Mayoral Candidates Answer Citizens’ Questions


MAYORAL FORUM - Candidates running for Dresden mayor participated in a mayoral forum on Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Dresden Senior Citizens Center, moderated by Paul Tinkle (standing at left). The candidates are (seated, from left) incumbent Mayor Jeff Washburn, Brandi George, Mark Maddox, Lyndal Dilday, and Mike Vernon.



A sizable crowd of local citizens were in attendance at Saturday night’s mayoral forum at the McWherter Civic Center in Dresden, featuring all five candidates seeking the office of mayor in Dresden’s upcoming municipal election on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

These candidates include incumbent Mayor Jeff Washburn and challengers Mike Vernon, Brandi George, Mark Maddox, and two-term alderman Lyndal Dilday.

With five candidates on the ballot, the Dresden mayor’s race is unquestionably Weakley County’s most hotly contested race in the upcoming Nov. 8 elections.

Local voters got their chance to learn more about the candidates, what they stand for, and what they plan to do if elected by writing their questions on slips of paper, which were tossed into a basket and drawn at random. The questions were then read aloud by Paul Tinkle, who served as moderator for the event.

Tinkle, who is president and general manager of Thunderbolt Radio, conducted the forum in a fair and orderly manner that was respectful of all of the candidates, as well as the audience.

The forum, which was planned and organized by the mayoral candidates, was live-streamed over the internet. A couple of the questions the candidates answered were emailed during the forum by those watching the event at home.

As the event got underway, Tinkle said, “Tonight is not a debate, but an open forum for our candidates to share with you their views on topics that affect residences and businesses in the city of Dresden.

“Almost 10 months to the day after the tornado struck, the city of Dresden is slowly beginning to move forward following the effects of the catastrophic damage done to this community.”

“Tonight you will hear the thoughts and plans and some of the initiatives to move forward and make Dresden better than it was, and will likely include working to bring more jobs into town.

“This past week, I have spoken to each of these candidates and all understand the basic ground rules of this forum.”

“In order to move this forum forward at a smooth pace, I’m introducing the candidates in the order of their first name: Brandi George, Jeff Washburn, Lyndal Dilday, Mark Maddox and Mike Vernon.”

“The questions have been submitted and here they are. We won’t get to all of them, but several of them are here. I have not read them.”

“Let me thank all of you tonight for your time here on a Saturday night Oct. 8, 2022,” Tinkle said.


Mr. Tinkle began the forum by asking the candidates to state something about themselves.

Brandi George: I was born and raised in Montana I’m not from Dresden. I spent about eight and a half years serving my country. I have spent my entire life volunteering in one form or another for the love of each community and now I would love more than anything to volunteer my time and efforts and experience at the rebuilding of Dresden. We need to build back better. We need to do better. We need to struggle forward together to make it happen. We will get through all of this and Dresden will be a better place. With your help I would like to be a part of that.

Jeff Washburn: I want to thank everyone for coming tonight. We appreciate you being here, and for your interest in the city of Dresden. Over the last eight years that I have served as mayor, we have had pretty significant economic growth here in Dresden. We’ve had at least 10 brand new businesses to locate in Dresden over that eight-year period. Some of them include Sonic, Dollar Tree, Casey’s, First Community Bank, Delta Imaging, and some other smaller businesses around the square. We currently have four new businesses in the process of locating here in Dresden, including: Gleason Lumber Company, a new Quick Stop out on Highway 22 across from Kountry Korner, a meat and bait shop is coming, and there is one other in the process of locating here in Dresden as well. We have one industry that is currently expanding in Dresden - National Tobacco – which is in the process of doing a $5 million expansion of their infrastructure at their plant. We were able to persuade National Tobacco to stay in Dresden. They had intended on moving that plant and the jobs that it has elsewhere, and we were able to negotiate with them not to leave.

Lyndal Dilday: I was born and raised here in Dresden. I’ve been married to my wife for 40 years. We have lived in the city limits our whole marriage. I’ve been on the Dresden City Board almost eight years. We have learned to love and appreciate Dresden and would like to see Dresden move forward. I’ve been at Gleason Clay Company where I have been employed 37 years. I’ve been with the Dresden Fire Department 24 years. And I’d really like to be your mayor.

Mark Maddox: I want to ask you a question. Have you ever wanted to know what it felt like to get on your bike and ride out in your neighborhood and go over to the park to look for a game of baseball or maybe a game of football behind your best friend’s house? That’s the kind of Dresden I grew up in. That’s the kind of Dresden where I graduated from high school. That’s the kind of Dresden I think we can bring back if we look at our roots, which are deep, and our wings which are strong. We can make Dresden what it needs to be. I’ve been married 30 years. I’ve got three kids - two of them which have graduated from Dresden High School and one which is trying to graduate from Dresden. I have worked as a teacher, supervisor for 38 years in this community. A lot of the people that are going to shape our future came through the buildings where I work. I’d like to be your mayor to take us into the future.

Mike Vernon: I can’t stand up like everyone else. I’m in a wheelchair. I want people to know that being in a wheelchair it’s not a disability, but a challenge, which I continue to maintain along with anyone else when I walked. I’ve lived here in the city of Dresden for 10 years. I was in the military for eight years as a military police officer. I served in Iraq. When I got back from Iraq, I spent five years as a police officer in the Northwest area of St. Louis county. During that time, I was shot in the line of duty by a burglary suspect. If I could walk again, tomorrow I would put the uniform right back on. When I was in St. Louis, I met my wife, Sarah Winstead, and she has grown up in this town her entire life. She promised me this area was (the land of) milk and honey. So, I came down and I’ve been here since then. I have been from one part of this country to the next and I’ve seen different types of societies, how people handle themselves, and the people in Dresden are some of the most kind, most caring, they’ll give you the shirt off their back in a moment. It was that reason which is why I wish to stay here and try to pursue a position as a mayor.

After the candidates introduced themselves, Mr. Tinkle asked each candidate, in turn, to answer the questions submitted by local citizens. The first question was “Aside from recovering from the December 10th tornado, what are other needs that candidates would see in our community and how would they likely address those needs from a position of leadership?”

Brandi George: As far as other needs, aside from recovery for the city of Dresden, we have subdivisions that don’t have streetlights, potholes that have not been repaired, sinkholes that need to be fixed that have been standing for years. There are numerous small projects that need to be completed to make Dresden the best that Dresden can be. Outside of small projects that we need to do, there is just not a lot available in our community for families. There’s not a lot to do here for children. Outside of the senior center there are not a lot of options for our elderly. We need to bring those programs here. There is always grant money available for splash parks, dog parks, for any number of programs and projects that wouldn’t cost a lot of money for citizens or residents that use them. As far as some of the small projects that need to be fixed, I think we can do that with budgeting. Some of it we can do with grant money. Unfortunately, we were just devastated by a tornado, which puts us higher on the list for receiving grants to fix our community. We need to get those applications filled and get them in, so we can receive that money and get our community built the best that it can be.

Jeff Washburn: I see that we need more industry in our community. We need more businesses in our community. One of the reasons we need that is to have better-paying jobs for our citizens. If we are going to recover and be a stronger city, we have to have jobs that pay a living wage and that’s one of the things we have worked toward. We’ve had people who wanted to come and bring industry into our Industrial Park, but were not willing to pay the wages that would support our citizens, and we’re not interested in that type of industry. We want an industry that pays $15 plus per hour and provide benefits that would be good for our citizens. Other things that we would need would be a strong industrial board that would pursue that (type of) business. We’ve worked with the Weakley County Economic Development Committee to re-establish it, and reformulate it, where it’s stronger and more goal-oriented in recruiting industry, less cumbersome in its administration. That’s one of the things I think we’re proud of that has happened in Weakley County. But we still need to do more from a leadership standpoint, by strengthening our local industrial board and ensuring they are on the same page as us in pursuing industry and providing better jobs for our community.

Lyndal Dilday: I also see that we need more industrial (development). There are a lot of things that need to be done with our park system. There’s not a lot for our children to do around here. And our senior citizens, I’m really behind that also. We do need to pursue grants in every way that we can to get more things for our buck.

Mark Maddox: The first thing I would say to you is, we are not broken. Our city is still alive, it’s still very strong. The second thing I would say to you is, you don’t have to be sick to get better. And so, what we need to look at are things that will make us better. I would propose a revitalization of the downtown. Wouldn’t it be great, if on a Saturday night, we could go downtown and get an ice cream cone and sit down with our neighbors and talk about what we think needs to happen in Dresden. I would submit to you that is one way we can get better. The second way I think we can get better is to get affordable housing for all of our citizens. Because we have people that do not have a place to live, and do not lay their head down the same place every night. Those are at least two things I would pursue if I were to be your mayor.

Mike Vernon: We need to start talking more to our residents. We need to listen to what each one of their needs are. One person’s needs on one street could be totally different from another. We need to maintain what we have. I’m for trying to promote Dresden and bring commerce into the city. We cannot forget the businesses that we have in this town now. We have to continue supporting them so they continue to grow. A while ago I had the privilege of speaking to one of our program directors for the senior citizens, and she said, “Please do not forget about us. We need drivers to get our senior citizens around.” Everyone wants to help the children who are in this town. The schools are awesome, and we need to be able to promote what we have. I think we all agree that Dresden is great, but we never have to settle. We can always do better.


The next question Mr. Tinkle asked the candidates was, “How many hours per week do you anticipate the job of Mayor of Dresden will require your undivided attention, and how many hours per week do you require to provide for you and your family’s livelihood?

Jeff Washburn: Currently, I’m just working in my law practice three days per week - normally on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I spend quite a bit of time working for the city. Following the tornado, it was 60 to 80 hours per week. For about six weeks or so, we were going through the rescue phase, the recovery phase, and on getting our city cleaned up. But I would anticipate it would normally take 10 to 12 hours per week on a normal basis to attend all of the meetings. A lot of those meetings are during the daytime. I think it would take at least that many hours a week to serve effectively as mayor, including signing checks and all of those things.

Dilday: Around 10 to 12 hours per week (which includes) meetings during the day.

Maddox: I’ve never been a mayor. I can’t tell you how many hours per week it takes to run the city. But I do know this, we’ve got some good people that work for the city of Dresden. Our department heads are some of the best in this area. I think if a mayor can lead them in the right direction, that they can do amazing things for the City of Dresden. I will say this to you, whatever time it takes, I’m willing to put it in. The second thing you need to know is I’m still working. But my job is such that I can spread that work (around) whenever I can do it, so I can be available for things that are required by the city of Dresden.

Vernon: Right now, our town is still trying to rebuild. I think, right now, we need a full-time mayor. It’s almost an eight to five (job). I’ve attended a lot of these meetings these past couple of months. Some of them are held at 7:30 in the morning, some of them are held at 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon. I know a lot of people work during those times. It’s at those times that’s the information needs to be disseminated among the alderman and other city officials. You can’t run this city by yourself. You have to surround yourself by people who’re going to help you make this work. I’m paralyzed and this is my life. I would be able to give to this city full time. I’d be able to give you all of my time. I make this commitment, I would not take a single penny if I became mayor.


Tinkle asked Mayor Washburn how much the mayor and aldermen are paid per month?

Washburn: The pay is $200 per month for the mayor of the City of Dresden, and $50 per month for aldermen.


Next, Mr. Tinkle asked, “Do you support free speech for the citizens, and how would you ensure that they have free speech if you are elected?”

Dilday: I do believe in free speech. At our meetings, we always have a section for citizens’ input. If I become mayor, my door is always open, my phone is always ready for anyone who needs to talk, and I’ll work with anyone that I can.

Maddox: We have this thing called the Constitution. It has an amendment that requires all of us to be cognizant of the fact we have free speech. I support that completely. We will continue to have a place for citizens input. But I say to you, I think we could have some meetings quarterly that we have all the citizens come in. We wouldn’t have any business that day; we’d just come in and talk.

Vernon: I firmly believe in the Constitution and freedom of speech. We have that fundamental right. But it’s one thing to have free speech and have someone who will listen to you. You have to be able to speak and not be cut off. You need to be able to speak and know that you won’t be berated during that conversation. If I became elected, I’d have an open-door policy so that the public should be able to reach out to me and express their needs, and I should be able to listen to them equally.

George: As everyone up here has expressed, freedom of speech is very important, for growth and development. The citizens have to be able to speak. Their opinions have to be heard to know what the community needs. There’ll always be an open-door policy, if I’m elected the mayor. Contact information will be available to your elected officials. My cards have my cell phone number. They have my personal email on them. Not only do you have the right to speak, you need to be able to reach the people to speak to, so things can be done to improve your community.

Washburn: I too favor free speech. But you can’t go into a theater and yell “fire”. That’s against the law. So there are some things that don’t pass for free speech, such as foul language. Defamation is not protected by free speech; that’s why it’s punished. I support free speech within the boundaries that the United States Supreme Court has set, and I will continue to do so. We have citizens imput at our city board meetings. It’s the fifth item on our agenda. For the eight years that I’ve been mayor, it’s never been taken off of the agenda. During my tenure as mayor, we’ve had forums for citizens to come up here and provide input. Following the tornado, we had a forum for people to come and question what’s going on in the recovery effort. This room was filled in that particular case. And we answered every question that was posed and listened to every citizen that had a question. We had a strategic planning session in this very room, and heard the strengths and weaknesses of where our city is, and receive guidance as to what they would like to see. The park is one of those areas where the citizens would like to see enlarged with more practice fields and more opportunities for athletic events. That’s one of the things our park director has emphasized during that time. So that is what we would propose.


Mr. Tinkle asked, “What characteristics does a mayor need to possess? Do you think you possess those qualities, and why?

Maddox: First of all, the mayor has to be an administrator. He’s got to be able to talk to department heads and to get things done. Secondly, a mayor needs to be open to good discussion, criticism and ideas. I think he needs to have a strong collaborative style of leadership. If you know anything about the job that I’ve done for Weakly County Schools, we were on the cutting edge of the wheel most of the time. That’s the hardest place to be during the thirty years that I’ve done technology. But we’ve always been collaborative. We’ve always asked people “Are we doing what needs to happen?” and we always listen to criticism and praise. I think if you have those three characteristics, you can be a good mayor.

Vernon: The Army has this acronym; it’s called LEADERSHIP - loyalty, discipline, honor, selfless service, integrity and personal courage. All those things can be taken into the job as mayor. You have to have a strong leader, and you have to be able to let your people know that I have your back as you have mine. You have to respect your people. You have to be able to get out there and face adversity. I understand that not everybody is going to like what you bring to the table. So, you should be able to listen and be able to sit down and have a conversation with somebody. I think those are the qualities I have portrayed during my military police career that I can bring here as mayor.

George: The military is huge on personal values and morality and being able to do what is expected of you when nobody is looking. Above all, I think what you take with you is going to be an important thing for the mayor of our community. People have to know when they’re not looking, when they’re not standing there watching you, that you’re doing what is best for your community. You have to respect them. People are not going tell you their ideas. They’re not going to talk to you. They’re not going to tell you what’s wrong in their part of your community, if you don’t respect them well enough to listen. And listen, not judge, but listen to understand. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. There has to be timelessness, whether it’s 10 hours this week, 40 hours next week, 90 hours the next time something catastrophic pops up. You have to manage your time wisely to get a community rallied together to go forward.

Washburn: I believe the characteristics of the mayor would include, not only being a good administrator, but a good money manager. The person that has the ability to manage money and manage the assets of the city in such a way taxes do not go up, so that we keep a low tax rate, low utility rates, and our citizens are served by that. We also should look at other opportunities for our city and give back to our citizens. For example, one of the things that we pursued over the last eight years was lowering our Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating, which came down from a 5 to a 4. This was about a 15 percent decrease in the insurance rates for our businesses and our citizens in this community. That’s giving back to our citizens part of what they’re giving in taxes and sales taxes. I believe that’s important. Collaboration is good, and that’s working with the committees of our city, and working with our citizens to achieve goals. One of the things people complained about was problems with houses and things, and we’ve addressed those. Our police go out, but it requires a team effort to get things cleaned up. Collaboration, good fiscal management, and hearing ideas from others are good.

Dilday: The good characteristics of a mayor are a listening ear, honesty, transparency, and being a leader. A team is no stronger than their leader. And watching every penny where it goes when budgeting. And I think I can do that.


Next, Tinkle asked, “Our city has been challenged by several breaking news events during the past few years including a most recent quad-state super cell tornado. Rate the overall performance of the citizens of the city of Dresden on a scale of 1 to 5. And what would you have done differently that has not been done.”

Vernon: I would rate the citizens as a 5. This is something that has never hit this town before. I’ve seen the people come together, and not just in Dresden, but from all around with the county. They have come and tried to support this town, clean up debris, and actually help the people. There are several programs out there that are trying to help them. I know there are citizens whose houses were destroyed and they’re still looking for that help. So I would say those persons are not at the 5 level. As to what could be done differently, you have to be able to take the situation that you have and go with it. Not everything is going to be handed to you step-by-step. But there are books out there provided by FEMA that says, in time of disaster, this is what needs to be done for FEMA to help you. But as far as the citizens, I applaud you all. There are still some healing that you have to do, but know that there are programs out there. More needs to be done for these individuals.

George: I would absolutely rate the citizens of Dresden at a 5. Everybody remembers December 10th. How many of you remember December 11th. Never has our community come together like they did on December 11th. There were tractors; there were volunteers; there was food; and everything our community needed immediately to get our roadways back open, people fed and those that need to have power to a nursing home or to a recovery center which are two places that they could be safe. The citizens of Dresden did an outstanding job right after we were hit by that devastating tornado. As I was not the mayor during that December 10th event, I can’t address what I would do differently. But moving forward, should we be hit by anything, I would absolutely push on the state and the federal government, and our nonprofit organizations, to ensure that the drive the citizens of Dresden had on December 11th continues all the way through our recovery. There is funding available. There are volunteers available. There are options available. But we can’t take no. We have to keep putting those applications in and keep pushing forward for the love of Dresden. Stress management is also a huge piece - I read through many books, many pamphlets, and spoke to many other community leaders who have recovered from tornadoes. Stress management for the community leaders and citizens is huge. You have to ask for help. One person can’t do it alone. Continue to ask. Continue to push.

Washburn: I, likewise, give the citizens of Dresden a five. What I witnessed on the morning of December 11th was phenomenal. I’ve never seen such love in a community for one another as we worked with one another. The community came together to help those that was affected. Not only people from Dresden, but from Martin. I met a fellow last night at the football game that happened to be a referee, and he walked over to me and he asked, “Do you remember me?” I said, “No, I don’t believe I do.” he said, “I was at your house on the morning after the tornado. I was part of the Martin Church of Christ that helped to clean up around your house and perform work.” They also brought food, as I recall. I have never witnessed such good citizenship from our citizens, and citizens from our area, that I did on December 11th, 12th, 13th and many more dates. In 2025, the city of Dresden will be two hundred years old. And never has there been a tornado of this magnitude or any disaster of this magnitude in our city. The Long-Term Recovery Group - I’m somewhat disappointed in them and what they have achieved. I have gone on record and stated that in the media, and I don’t believe that every need is being addressed in our community. There are people out there, as some of the others have alluded to, that need assistance. And I call on the Long-Term Recovery Group to search deeper to see if we can help many of our citizens who are still trying to get back to the point that they were before the storm.

Dilday: I would rate the citizens of Dresden at a five also. I think the citizens of Dresden rallied to the cause greatly. As far as what I could do if I was in charge is like a Monday morning football coach after the game. I think during the heat of battle everything went good. The people rallied together and I think everything went pretty well.

Maddox: I’m not going to rate our citizens of Dresden any differently and our colleagues up here, for certain. What happened the next morning was pure community. People came from every corner of this town to lend a hand, to make sure that their friends were good, to make sure that people were safe, and they had what they needed. That’s the kind of response that we would get in Dresden. But, you know, we always come together. When our friends get sick, we’re there to help them get better. When someone falls down, we’re there to pick them right back up. As to what I would have done differently, my son impressed me the next day. We were going out Friday night, like everyone else, to try to help some folks and I think we slept about two hours, and I got up, and he was in the living room. I said what are you doing? He said we have to get up and help people. He’s that way because of you all. Because that’s the way you helped to raise him. What would I have done differently? I wouldn’t have stood in the sunroom and listened to the tornado go by and slam all of the acorns and hail up against the glass.


Next, Mr. Tinkle read a question submitted by someone watching the mayoral forum online. He asked the candidates, “Are you familiar with the city charter, and do you think there are any changes and updates that need to be made?

George: I am familiar with the city charter. I’ve read through it a few times, and our city charter is dated. There are many things in our city charter that need to be updated, as our city is currently working on. There are requests already to have the charter reviewed. There are things in our charter, for instance, to possess, purchase or transport alcohol over 5 percent is illegal in the city of Dresden. I can go now to any gas station in Dresden and buy alcohol that’s got more than 5 percent in it. We’re not in the prohibition era anymore, and our charter shouldn’t be either. Our charter also references every homeowner, every political office holder as “he.” It’s 2022. Women can help, women can lead, and our charter needs to reflect that. We’re in a generation that if there’s something you want to do, the only thing standing in your way is you. And our charter needs to represent that. Our city is currently working on that and will continue to push forward working on that, and it will be updated regardless of whoever is elected up here tonight.

Washburn: There are some things in our charter that are archaic and need to be changed. One thing that I do not believe should be changed is to allow for a city manager. I believe a city manager would only increase our taxes anywhere from $0.25 to $0.38 on the tax rate. It would result in having another city employee that would draw anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000 per year. The municipal technical advisory service person, who came to our city, said a city manager only lasts about two and a half to three years, so you would have a city manager change every two and a half to three years.

Dilday: Yes, the last meeting that I was a member of the board, we talked about the city charter. There are a lot of things that need to be changed in the city charter that are outdated.

Maddox: The Dresden City Charter is set up by a Private Act of the State Legislature. The charter we currently have was sponsored by speaker Ned McWherter, long before he was governor. It’s time that we put together a new charter and ask our representative to take and pass a private act.

Vernon: Yes, I am familiar with the city charter. You can see that a lot of these dates are from the 1980s. The charter needs to reflect the growing times and needs to be fluid with the times that we have. Regarding a city manager, I think what we have now is fine. I don’t think we need a city manager. Honestly, we have a city manager. She goes by the title of city recorder and her name is Jennifer Branscum. You can walk into her office and ask her anything about FEMA or ordinances, give her a couple of seconds, and she’ll pull out the paperwork right there. So, if anything, that woman deserves a raise.


Tinkle asked, “In your opinion, what are the responsibilities of aldermen in an event such as the December 10th tornado and possible other disasters and devastating circumstances, which could occur again in the future?”

Dilday: I believe alderman should be very active in the devastation (recovery). I was out of town the night that the tornado hit Dresden. As soon as I got back in town, my first place was at City Hall. As a matter of fact, I brought the state seal out of City Hall. Also, the alderman should work together to get everything put back as soon as possible.

Maddox: I don’t think the responsibilities of the aldermen is any different than any other private citizen. When a devastating event occurs in our city, they have the responsibility of being out front and leading our citizens in recovery and rescue.

Vernon: After speaking with local citizens, I have determined there was a breakdown in communications following the tornado. “Aldermen represent the people and they need to be out in front as the leaders. There was an alderman at a previous meeting a while back that made a comment that his job was just to come and here and vote and that’s the most that the charter says he has to do. I highly disagree with that. There’s more to being an alderman than just voting; you need to actually go out there and speak to the people and listen to them. If there’s one thing I hope comes out of this, it’s that the nine or 10 aldermen will have a forum like this where people can ask them (questions), because they are just as equal in voting as what goes on in the city as the mayor.

George: I believe the Alderman’s responsibilities continue on with their everyday responsibilities. They are elected by the people and for the people of our community. They need to be available for people to understand that their concerns are heard. An Alderman’s job is knowing what’s going on in their community and making sure that that information is presented to the board, so the board can take a vote on how they believe the people would respond to that. Contact information has already been touched on. But, of course, with the devastation of a tornado, contact information does you zero good. We have no phones. We have no radios. Nothing works. Each and every one of our aldermen should be in a place where they can be contacted, so that people feel understood. Our aldermen are in a paramount position in our community. And aldermen hold more power than a mayor does. The mayor doesn’t get a vote unless the aldermen have split the vote down the middle. On every topic that’s brought up in our community our aldermen should take their position seriously.

Washburn: I think that during this particular disaster, the alderman should have been active and participating in the decision-making process. Having said that, we started having meetings on Monday or Tuesday night for weeks after the tornado occurred. The majority of our aldermen were present at those meetings. But there were some aldermen that were out of town from the time of the December 10th tornado until after the middle of January and didn’t attend any of those meetings. It is the responsibility to be present and participate in the business of this city. If they are not able to do so, they should not be an alderman. We have a good group running. We have some very interested individuals. Some of those alderman candidates have been at our FEMA meetings, constantly, up to the middle of September. Now they have become less frequent because we have debris cleaned up and things like that. But in a future disaster, the aldermen need to be a vital part of it. They need to participate, and we had many who did exactly that, they were active, and they attended the meetings. Unfortunately, we didn’t have as much participation in the FEMA meetings, but those were held at 1 or 2 p.m. on Thursday afternoons. And I understand that people have got to work.


At this point during the forum, Tinkle asked the candidates if they would be willing to extend the one-hour meeting another 10 minutes in order to get in a few more questions, and all the candidates agreed to do so.

The next question was, “What would be your plans to use the tornado funds donated to the city of Dresden?”

Maddox: I think there has already been a plan put in place and that people can apply for those funds as their needs are not being met. As the mayor has already stated we need to jump start the group in order to get those funds to people.

Vernon: I believe there were two sets of families that had their houses damaged in the tornado, and they haven’t heard anything from the Long-Term Recovery Group. Those donations need to be accounted for and they need to know where it’s going. The people that are donating their money, they want to know where that money is going to, especially if they have donated to tornado survivors.

George: Donated funds after the tornado are, of course, a very touchy topic. Unfortunately, that’s not within the control of the city of Dresden’s mayor. It’s the Weakley County Long-Term Recovery Group. As city of Dresden’s mayor, we just have to continue to attend those meetings. And push the Long-Term Recovery Group to make those decisions that benefit Dresden. The city of Dresden’s mayor doesn’t have a vote at those boards. All we can do is contact them and push on them. The barking dog gets the bone. We can’t relent in that, but unfortunately, the Dresden mayor doesn’t have the power there. If we get future donations that are specific to the city of Dresden, and not to the recovery of the citizens of Dresden, we have many small projects that need to be tackled. I would start with those small projects so that each and every neighborhood and Dresden can see improvements.

Washburn: The City of Dresden served as a conduit for donations. We received a couple of very sizable donations that were made to the city as a conduit for the Long-Term Recovery Group. I think the donations to the City of Dresden was about $80,000. The City Board, back in June, voted to purchase a leaf machine. The designation of the donations was that it be used for the benefit of all the citizens of Dresden. The leaf machine was considered by the board to be a means to benefit all the citizens of Dresden. I do not disagree with that decision. It would be something that would benefit all of the citizens of Dresden, because of the situation. Our leaf machine is down and fall is here. We ordered one, but, unfortunately, it’s not going to be here until about February or March. I think the Long-Term Recovery Group, in using those funds, would do justice and service to the citizens of Dresden, if they would distribute them to those in need, including the two individuals that were mentioned earlier.

Dilday: It’s out of the mayor’s hands. It was donated to other organizations. But I do think a lot of pressure needs to be put on them. And, I think there is way too much red tape and it needs to be cut back.


Mr. Tinkle asked, “What are your plans for Dresden to be more of a young family town? The park, a skate park, splash pad, etc.?”

Vernon: Our park is being renovated. You can go down and see the new streets, the new curbs, and you can see the playgrounds. We can’t just stop there. We have to be able to have programs; maybe after school programs for the kids; and in the summertime, get together to watch more (outdoor) movies and to have live music. Right now, I think our town is in the building process. Once we get the town built up, we can start getting these side missions completed. We can’t forget the children; they’re the ones that are going to grow up in this town. You want your kids to see the world. You want them to know that the world that they left behind here in Dresden is an awesome place and to come back to it.

George: The youth in our community are very important to me. Not being from here, the town where I graduated high school is one mile from one end of the town to the other. We had a teen center that was open Friday and Saturday nights to keep our teenagers off of drugs. Why doesn’t Dresden? If you want to go bowling, where do you go? If you want to go to a movie, where do you go? If you want to go skating, where do you go? And while you’re there, where do you spend your money? Where do you get gas? Where do you get groceries? We have to change the events available for the families in Dresden, so that our citizens stay here and our surrounding community citizens come here to spend their money. I would like to see a splash pad here - one that would be a very cheap or free outlet for children and families. There is grant money available for those. I would also like to see some version of a teen center opened. If we just had a pool table and some video games; it doesn’t have to be something huge or expensive for children to love it. But we have to do something for our families, our children, and our elderly here in Dresden, to keep that revenue money here.

Washburn: I appreciate that question, because that’s something that we have already been working on. Our Parks Director Joey Winstead and myself have been trying to purchase land to expand our park, so that we would have additional practice fields and playing fields for our ball program, and picnic areas and things like that, which are in close proximity the our existing park. But we haven’t been successful in acquiring that land. We hope that sometime in the future that land will become available to the city of Dresden. Our name is first in line, if and when the decision is made to sell that land. But one thing I’m reminded of by parents in this community is not every kid plays baseball; not every kid plays football; not every kid plays basketball. What do we do for those kids that aren’t athletically oriented? What activities do we have for them. A splash pad would be great. It works about three or four months out of the year during the summer months. The study that we did here was that it would cost about $500,000 to build a splash pad, and about $75,000 per year to maintain a splash pad. That would be something to look into. I would love to see a swim center that would be indoors and could be operated year-round. I would love to see something like that our kids could enjoy here in our community. I would love to see other activities that they could be participants in.

Dilday: I would like to see the park program grow and for us to get more land. Dilday recalled a time, years ago, when there was a hangout for the kids called The Fig Tree and another named The Lions Den. It was a little restaurant that had games. We really need something like that nowadays.

Maddox: If I were your mayor, I would form a Quality of Life Committee. So that these discussions about the expansion of park programs, the expansion of senior citizens programs, the expansion young family programs to be had in a collaborative style meeting. So that we could determine what we need to do and find a way to pay for it. Because all of these things that have been mentioned up here require funding. A lot of the things that Miss George and Mr. Dilday mentioned were private entrepreneurs. The Fig Tree was a ministry and the Lion’s Den was a restaurant. It was a great place to go. It was a great place to hang out. That’s what I would do.


In closing, Mr. Tinkle asked the mayoral candidates to answer a question that he posed, which was, “Why do you believe the citizens of Dresden should elect you?”

Vernon: I have leadership qualities. And I will be able to listen to all citizens. I’m going to listen to my citizens when I tell you there is an option for a leaf machine, and possibly save the City some money. Instead I get a lean back and I get the words “you just think you’re so smarter than all of us.” And no ladies and gentlemen, I don’t. I promise I’ll listen to you and I won’t berate you, if you guys have a great idea to bring forth to me.

Dilday: I have proved myself the last eight years as an alderman in this town. And I’ve had Dresden’s interest at heart. I will do the best I can. I will try to be transparent. I will listen to everyone and be a good leader.

Maddox: I was born here. I graduated high school from here. I raised my kids here. I have stood and answered each and every one of your questions tonight out of respect for you. I have leadership qualities and I have experience to be a good mayor for the city of Dresden. And I respectfully ask for your vote.

George: Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, integrity, and personal courage are core values that have been ingrained in me since I was a child. I’m not from here, because I come from a military household. My family served my country. I served my country. And I would like to continue to serve the citizens of Dresden now. I’m willing to put all of the footwork in that the citizens need to have done, to see everything that the citizens need are done here. I have the time. I have the skill set. I have the patience. And I’m willing to hear you. I request your vote on November 8th.

Washburn: First of all, let me say I appreciate all of the candidates for mayor participating tonight, their answers, and their interest in serving our city. I believe I have a proven record of service in our community. I have worked in our city for the past eight years. And we have had a very successful city. Right after the storm, in the past few months, our fire department has not only improved, but they have been recognized with two statewide awards. These are not the first awards our city has received over the past eight years. It has required a lot of work to get there. My wife Jennifer and I have five children between us. All of them graduated from Dresden High School. I participated in the athletic programs and the park programs of our city. We were acting in those programs as well. I know what our programs are here in our city. I’ve been here for 49 years. I think I can continue to do the job that I was elected to do eight years ago. I will do it diligently, respectfully, and with earnest.


When the question and answer session came to a close, Tinkle poured out all of the questions that were not asked during the mayoral forum on a table for the candidates to read.

Tinkle said, “Audience, you have been wonderful tonight. I want to commend you for being gracious, for being kind, for being genuine, would you take a moment please and applaud these people here at the table (referring to the mayoral candidates).” The audience responded with a resounding applause.

In closing, Tinkle stated he spoke with all of the candidates prior to Saturday night’s forum and remarked that they have Dresden’s best interests at heart. He said, “They are good people, and they want to do good things for the city of Dresden.”