Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles in the studio.
During the second hour, Ogles commented on Governor Bill Lee’s State of the State address Monday evening citing several issues that the state would be tackling. He later discussed his role as mayor and his role in recruiting businesses to bring their companies to ever growing Tennessee.
Leahy: A special treat for us today in studio the mayor of Maury County Andy Ogles. Andy, did you have a chance to watch the governor’s State of the State address last night? And what do you think of it?
Ogles: You know, I did of course. I’m a self-avowed nerd. And so what else would I be doing on a Monday night, but watching the governor’s press conference or speech? But yeah, you know I thought the governor said what he needed to say. He’s not necessarily an overly dynamic speaker.
Leahy: No soaring of rhetoric by Governor Bill Lee.
Ogles: Right. He stuck to the point.
Leahy: Straightforward in his view.
Ogles: COVID and the bombing and the difficulty with the economy and those kinds of things. And he talked about the state. In Tennessee, whether you are a Republican a Democrat are somewhere in the middle it’s a great place to live. We’ve got low taxes and the economy, by and large, is doing well despite all of the hiccups of COVID, and if you’re in the Nashville market the bombing, etc.
There were some interesting things in his speech. He talked about some of the increased monies for teacher pay. He is going to propose constitutional carry again. I’m not sure what kind of support that has in this legislative session. And then for local governments, which if your I’m a county mayor the about $200 million in grants for infrastructure.
Now, he did mention in for the building of schools but that that was probably a slip of the tongue. A high school costs between 70 and 90 million so 200 million dollars isn’t going to go very far. But if you need to retrofit your HVAC units which will cost a million and a half dollars.
Leahy: Which is kind of in the COVID era, a lot of what we’re looking at that.
Ogles: Right. And so and he talked about deferred maintenance in a lot of school systems, especially in your rural systems and I know this is boring but deferred maintenance is an issue.
Leahy: Actually it’s not boring really to me. Of course, maybe I’m a fellow nerd but I think many in our listening audience you look at education and it’s just like, well, I have no idea why they’re doing a lot of what they’re doing. I don’t understand and I’m not sure why they’re doing it. So actually go ahead and nerd away.
Ogles: Maury County, for example, we are a rural county, and a lot of our schools are older buildings built in the 50s. And so you have HVAC units or ductwork or plumbing and windows that need to be replaced and those are expensive projects. And so when you’re trying to figure out that balance between textbooks and tablets and curriculums and all those sorts of things a lot of that maintenance type stuff gets pushed away, pushed away, pushed away because you’re always trying to stretch that penny. As the governor said he deferred maintenance only gets more expensive the longer you wait.
Leahy: And from a guy who runs an HVAC company, it’s right in his wheelhouse, right?
Ogles: He knows a whole lot about maintenance. And so so it makes sense especially in and I don’t know, obviously he didn’t go into the details. You would think that maybe you’re distressed counties and some of your really small counties will have first dibs on some of this stuff. Which makes sense. But it’ll be an interesting legislative session. I expect it to be abbreviated so something like a constitutional carry which I support, I don’t know that if it’ll have if it will have enough legs and if they don’t have enough time to get it done this year. But it’s certainly a possibility.
Leahy: There does seem to be growing support and our friends at the Tennessee Firearms Association are very much pushing it. And I think they think this may be the year.
Ogles: Could be. And of course, the devil is in the details. When you say constitutional carry, is it true constitutional carry, or is it something else? And so we’ll see how the sausage is made up at the legislature I would expect maybe some of your associations like the Sheriff’s Association might come out against it and see what they may want to stick into it. Now you’re kind of getting into the weeds of how legislation and how laws are made. There’s a lot of competing interests including guns.
Leahy: So give us a little insight just you and me talking here. What’s it like being the mayor of a county. We have 99 counties here in Tennessee, you’re one of them. I think all 99 have a mayor. Maybe a few that have a little different form of government. But what’s it like dealing with the state government and dealing with the federal government? Which of those two gives you greater heartburn?
Ogles: The federal government always gives me heartburn. (Leahy chuckles) Gridlock, you know, that gridlock phrase has become a kind of a derogatory term, but in reality, that’s what the Founding Fathers intended. Because the less that Washington DC is doing the less harm they’re doing quite frankly the less money, they’re spending.
And in this age of COVID-19 spent trillions and trillions of dollars. So clearly the federal government is the one that gives me heartburn. Maury County is in a unique position and a lot of your donut counties around Nashville because we are growing so fast. I work a lot with ECD which is probably not normal.
Leahy: Economic Community Development.
Ogles: Yeah, so bringing the recruiting business to come into the state. Even if you had a business that was maybe more suited for a West Tennessee they’re going to show them Maury County just to give them an idea of what a little Tennessee town looks like. What’s it feel like? What do they have to offer? Part of that is Maury County is so picturesque, so I work a lot with the state that some other county mayors may not but what I will say is any time I’ve needed something there’s someone there to talk to.
They may not agree with me and they may not have the answer I want but you know, it’s a good relationship and depending on the situation. But all that to say is I’ve had nothing but positive experiences when we’ve had issues with roads or intersections or economic Development. We’ve got good people working here.
Leahy: One of the things that I like so much about you and the way you handle your job as county mayors, you are a very very strong limited government conservative. But you interact with people in a very pleasant conversational friendly way even people that you disagree with. It’s a rare thing to have these days because you know, you see a lot of people on the conservative side that just doesn’t quite have that shall we say cooperative attitude. (Laughter)
Ogles: You and I can disagree but it doesn’t mean that I dislike you or that you necessarily dislike me. We just disagree on a topic.
Leahy: You’re a kinder person than I am because, a little secret here Andy, (Whispers) sometimes people that I disagree with I also don’t like them. Like Chuck Schumer for instance. We can talk about that more later. But I think it’s a sign of why you’re doing what you do and I do what I do. Because I think running a county government really requires a steady hand and a sort of a calm unflappable demeanor and you have that.
Ogles: Well, I appreciate it. Again, I’ll take Bill Clinton. I never met Bill Clinton. I presume he’s probably a nice guy so I can sit and have a conversation with the former president. Again, I’m fairly certain I agree with nothing that he believes in but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be an interesting conversation.
Leahy: So let me agree with that. Let me tell you a person that I think would be an unpleasant conversation. I think having the same conversation with Hillary.
Leahy: Would be a little unpleasant.
Ogles: I think would be terrifying actually. I’d be looking over my shoulder. (Leahy chuckles)
Leahy: But back to Tennessee. I’m such a big fan of Tennessee as you are.
Ogles: Oh, yeah.
Leahy: If you lived in any other state of the union and you didn’t like it, it seems to me that the state to move to would be Tennessee for any number of reasons.
Ogles: And it quite literally is. The Uhaul data shows that more people are moving to Tennessee. Tennessee was number one and I think Florida was second. So the south and for lots of reasons geography, weather, economic development, and low taxes we are the place to be. Now what I always will tell people especially if you’re from California or New York, you left California for a reason. God love you. You’re welcome. Come on in. However, don’t bring your politics with you. It’s the same thing with my New Jersey friends and my New York friends. You left upstate for a reason. So come here and enjoy a limited and free low-taxed government.
Leahy: And don’t try to mess it up by bringing your bad blue state policies into Tennessee. So far so good!
Ogles: We are doing well. I think you have some counties that are turning, but we’ll get to that.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Andy Ogles” by Andy Ogles. Background Photo “Tennessee Capitol” by Peggy Anderson. CC BY-SA 4.0.