Kenneth Moore, the only Democratic candidate running this year for Loudon County Commission, knew what he wanted to be when he left high school.
Plant manager appealed to him. Moore wanted to manage processes and people to improve quality and produce better products.
After 40 years managing plants, processes and people for companies like John Deere, PepsiCO, General Electric and Procter & Gamble, Moore said he has pretty much fulfilled his first dream.
“I have been very successful in everything I’ve done,” he said.
Moore, who also served as a combat engineer in the U.S. Marine Corps, said his new dream is about making America a better place — the kind of country his three children and four grandchildren can be as proud of in the future as he is now.
“I love this country,” he said.
A 14-year resident of Tellico Village along with wife Debbie, Moore has come a long way from Picayune, Miss., where he was raised in a large family during the “Jim Crow” era of the Deep South.
“I know what it was like,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of stuff, but I still believe in America. I believe this country is great. I believe we can make this county even better.”
His faith in country is also tied to faith in God. He serves as regional vice president of the Tennessee Baptist Laymen Movement and sings in the choir at his church where he also serves as trustee.
Moore said he knows running as a Democrat in a deeply Republican county is an uphill battle, but he believes the problems he wants to solve are neither red nor blue but issues that concern all county residents.
The issue of growth is a good example, he said. Change always occurs no matter how hard some may try to stop it. He said the key to success is managing change by collecting and understanding the data.
He does not support the ongoing moratorium on Planned Unit Developments because it is too broad and does not take into account that some parts of the county are ready for growth even as others are not.
He likes the idea of low taxes but is even more committed to making sure children are learning and teachers are paid well enough that the county does not have to worry about losing them to private businesses. He said he would vote for a tax increase if it was needed to meet important goals like education.
“You got to have an open mind,” Moore said. “We have to look at what the needs are.”
He said he has attended a few county commission meetings. He said what he saw was a group of people who are not working together toward shared goals.
“I will change that,” Moore said. “I have the experience and a record of success communicating with teams of people to improve communication.”
What he learned from decades in managing manufacturing quality control is that quality starts at the front end of the process. Fixing problems after the product has been made is too late. He said he can apply this philosophy to the county decision-making process through better long-range planning and building consensus around a shared vision.
Moore also said he has experience solving problems by gathering data, listening to all points of view and treating other opinions with respect.
Jan Hahn, the lone Democrat seeking the 32nd District seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives, understands facing an uphill battle based on political party affiliation.
Hahn, a longtime Lenoir City physician who once ran unsuccessfully for county commission’s District 5, believes people want choices that go beyond Republican or Democrat affiliations. Diversity of thought is the source of good government, he said.
“Democracy thrives on the competition of ideas,” he said.
Hahn said he understands why Moore is running and shares many of the same ideas. As a former hospital administrator, Hahn said he approaches problems by siting down with stakeholders, sharing ideas and getting buy-in from all involved before moving toward implementing solutions.
Sometimes facts can be uncomfortable, but solving problems requires accepting facts and making decisions based on those facts, he said.
Moore said he plans to become much more visible in the coming months. He believes he will transcend partisan politics and gather votes from Democrats, Republicans and independents.
“I intend to win this,” he said.