Source: Franklin Home Page

By Emily West

Williamson, Inc. announced the formation of the Williamson Business Political Action Committee on Wednesday morning, with initial plans to give to candidates running for the Williamson County School Board in the August election.

While Williamson, Inc. has previously taken positions on various state and local issues that affect county businesses, the PAC will enable the business community in Williamson County to participate in local elections with a united voice. The PAC’s leaders say they are focusing first on the school board because of the significant gains in achievement and individual success stories that have fallen into the shadows by other news that they consider distractions and could put WCS at risk.

The initial issue to establish the PAC came when Dr. Mike Looney potentially resigned from the Williamson County Schools and potentially went to Davidson County,” PAC chairman Dennis Norve said. “We saw that as having an economic impact on the business community but wanted to address the issues of ensuring that we keep our greatest asset.”

In choosing candidates to support, the committee will establish a questionnaire and have an interview process. Growth will remain as one of the top points of discussion with candidates along with how the schools affect things like development and traffic.

“It’s to ensure that they are student focused and are committed to public education,” Norve said. “It’s also to determine that they are not desiring to advance a personal ambition of any nature and understanding that the public school systems are number one. We want to make sure they understand the role of the school board member and understand that has an effect on economic development. We want someone who embraces diversity as a source of strength, and those kind of things.”

Right now, the PAC has raised half of its $50,000 goal. The fundraising comes with personal discussions with those in business. and their decision to give will not affect their chamber membership. Leaders of both said the Williamson, Inc. Chamber and the Williamson Business PAC will have distinct boundaries in terms of governance and financing.

While focusing this year only on the school board, the PAC could give money to other county and state elections.

The current members of the PAC Board of Directors are Chairman Dennis Norvet of Skanska; Treasurer Bryan Echols of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis; Secretary Mark Cleveland of Hobby Express; Paula Harris of Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon, Inc.; and Nelson Andrews of Andrews Cadillac/Jaguar/Land Rover Company.

“Protecting this economic asset and keeping our public schools as strong as possible is the single best thing we can do to ensure our continued economic growth and prosperity,” Andrews said in a press release announcing the PAC.

The PAC Board of Directors will be selected on an annual basis by the Chamber Executive Committee on recommendation of the vice chairman of the Chamber board. The Williamson Business PAC Board is not governed by the Williamson, Inc. Board of Directors.

The CEO of the Williamson, Inc. Chamber is not an officer or board member of the Williamson Business PAC but will be an integral part of PAC activities.

Learn more about the Williamson Business PAC at www.williamsonpac.org.

Emily West covers Franklin for Home Page Media Group. Contact her at emily@franklinhomepage.com. Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.