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Clary expressed concerns Tuesday night over the low general fund balance.
Pranaav Jadhav/ USA TODAY NETWORK- Tennessee

Hendersonville Mayor Jamie Clary is no stranger to public life.

He’s spent nearly three decades in service to the community as vice president of the Hendersonville Area Chamber of Commerce, a city alderman and editor of the Hendersonville Star News.

Clary has called the City by the Lake home since 1973, a time when the community consisted of 6,000 residents.

Fast forward to 2017, and Clary has completed his first six months in office as mayor of a city with 59,000 residents. He recently took time to talk with the Gallatin News Examiner about improving traffic flow, ways to bring more a dollars to town and why the city’s best days are still ahead.

Looking back at your first six months, how have they been? Have you been able to start working on the things you promised during polls?

Clary: I feel I haven’t been able to get started I wish I were further along. The first six months have been a lot of emails and a lot of meetings. In the past two months, I have done a better job of handing things to Kay (Franklin, city recorder), handing things off to staff so that I have more time to concentrate on those big picture things. And for me those have always been infrastructure, image and jobs.

That’s what I ran on and that’s what I want to focus on as mayor because after four years, no resident is going to be excited about the emails I answered. They want to know how I did with infrastructure, image and jobs.

In terms of solving traffic congestion, are you still considering a three-pronged approach of synchronizing lights, changing some to flashing yellow and constructing new roads?

Clary: I do, it takes longer than you realize when you are a candidate. …The synchronization will help immensely but also road projects that I didn’t think would have that great of an impact. Stop 30 and Drakes Creek Road… we have a long-term project there but as part of that we put a light there and built a right-turn lane and it means so much for the folks that live down there. That kind of solution is having a bigger impact than I thought it would.

During your town hall with residents in April, you presented a pavement management program, among other things. What were the main takeaways?

Clary: I think people walked out of that meeting knowing that we have roads in many shades of maintenance and it’s going to cost money to repair them. And, it is not going to be a political decision which roads get maintained but something based on data.

Hendersonville aldermen approved a very different city budget than what you originally proposed. Do you feel let down with the final draft?

Clary: I do. We’ve got to get our general fund balance up. … If our sales tax revenues take a dip or don’t increase as the way we are expecting them to, we are going to be in trouble.

Are there any accomplishments in the short six months you’ve been in office?

Clary: Most of my accomplishments are going to be in building relationships. Last week, I got to sit down with 10 principals that serve the students in Hendersonville. I just wanted them to know how important they are to the services that the city can provide. To most people that sounds like there is no connection but people want to move and live in Hendersonville for many reasons and the primary one is the schools. If we have that, we have a greater demand for people to live here, not necessarily greater growth but greater demand.

If you’ve greater demand, you are going to have greater property value which would generate more revenue. More revenue for the city means more services the city can provide.

More: Hendersonville mayor’s petition to show need for extended library hours

How has your regional outreach been to bring in more sporting or cultural events?

Clary: Part of it is we are getting more hotel rooms. That’s exciting, that is about the cleanest industry you can have, people bringing in their money and leaving it here. We generate awful lot of sales taxes from the places they eat at and places they shop at. So that’s wonderful. I want us to be a recreational destination especially in winter months when we don’t have much going on here. I went up to Station Camp to watch the soccer team play the state tournament final and I thought can we do this in Hendersonville? We are pretty close. We really are. And it might be a Sumner County partnership but we are close to doing what they do in Murfreesboro.

The greatest asset of the city is the lake, but you haven’t spent much time talking about how to generate revenue from it. Why?

Clary: For the most part, I am going to leave that kind of a thing to the tourism bureau but I want folks that live here to take advantage of it here. It drives me crazy when my cycling friends go to Nashville to use the greenways. We need greenways around the lake. It’s not just cyclists but it is mom and dad with strollers. I would like to provide the venue for more people that are looking for recreation to spend more time in Hendersonville.

Reach Pranaav Jadhav at pjadhav@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter @pranaavj.

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