In addition to being the commercial leasing manager for the Lester Group, Andrew Palmer was named vice president of Lester Development Corporation last week, and if things go his way, he will become a Henry County supervisor in January.
Palmer, 30, says he has been thinking about running for the job for some time.
“Back in 2016, when I owned the Sears store in Collinsville, I decided I wanted to run, but I waited until the last week to get my packet and didn’t get enough signatures by the deadline, so this has been on my mind for a long time,” Palmer said.
Palmer said he’s was not running at the behest of his boss, George Lester, an influential Martinsville businessman, but that he did have Lester’s support.
“Before I decided to run, I spoke to Mr. Lester about it and told him that I thought it was time for me to run for the Board of Supervisors, and I told him I was concerned with reversion and what was taking place, and he actually encouraged me at the time not to run,” Palmer said. “He said, ‘While I’m extremely understanding of your reasoning for wanting to run and while I think you’ll do a good job, I would be concerned with people thinking that you’re doing it because of me.’ And that was 100% not the case. We knew this would be an issue.”
Palmer has nothing against his opponent, longtime incumbent Collinsville District Supervisor Joe Bryant, but he said he thinks it’s time for a fresh look and a more aggressive style.
“You’re going to have someone who’s not afraid to stand up and tell the county administration this is what the taxpayers want to see happen,” Palmer said. “I’m not afraid to ruffle the feathers.”
Palmer said he had heard that Henry County Administrator Tim Hall advised the Board of Supervisors to ignore Martinsville’s overtures of reverting from a city to a town and that that advice may have been the single point of failure in preventing reversion from occurring.
“When Mayor Kathy Lawson was mailing letters to Henry County Board of Supervisor Chairman Jim Adams asking for a joint meeting after the recent reversion study was completed, there was no response from Henry County,” Palmer said. “I was told the county administrator said just leave the city alone; they’ve been talking about this for years.”
Palmer said if the county had responded and agreed to consolidate schools and maybe the sheriff’s departments, reversion could have been averted.
“We wouldn’t have to be dealing with this memorandum of understanding that says we’ve got 10 years without annexation,” Palmer said. “I really think, out of the six supervisors, there should have been someone to lead the way and say this is what could happen.
“What would it have hurt to sit down and talk?”
Palmer said as a Henry County supervisor he will be a voice for the taxpayers, support the construction of I-73 in Henry County and push his points on reversion to members of City Council, which still has one more ultimate vote before reversion becomes a reality.
Said Palmer: “I’ll make sure that we’re voting on policies that spark the economy in Henry County, and I’ll do everything in my power to keep real estate and other taxes from increasing.”
Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, Ext. 236. Follow him @billdwyatt.