Rebecca Watson is one of four candidates running to become a Thompson's Station alderman in the upcoming November election.
Watson has been a resident of Thompson's Station for five years.
A political newcomer, Watson moved to Tennessee from Pennsylvania with her husband and then 5 month-old child. Graduating from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a degree in interior design, Watson was soon hired as an administrator for an oil and gas company, and soon promoted to becoming a land agent.
Today, Watson acts as an interior design specialist, designing custom closets, and also does residential design for a design build company.
What motivated you to run for office?
I have been thinking about running for alderman for some time, and now that my children are older, I felt called to throw my hat in the ring. Growing up in a Christian household, I always remember my parents saying that we are put on this earth to be servants of others. I think public office is one of the many ways we can answer that calling.
Specifically, for this election, I have noticed some areas in Thompson’s Station that are lacking in terms of project management, and I feel as though I could help with prioritizing projects and ensuring these projects get done.
Ultimately, I want to be the residents’ voice and their community servant. At the end of the day, I am working for the resident! This is not about what vision the BOMA (Board of Mayor and Aldermen) members have and want, it is about what vision the residents have and want.
What qualities/experience do you possess that you feel would make you a good town leader?
I think the only real absolutely must have skills to be an elected official is active listening and communicating. [However], I do believe it is advantageous when past professions can help pave the way for new opportunities.
I come from a background of infrastructure when I worked in the oil and gas industry in Southwestern Pennsylvania. I quickly developed the ability to understand a landowner’s emotional connection to their property by listening, and in turn being their voice. This experience connects directly to where our town is today. There are many landowners who want to ensure their voice is still heard.
I was also responsible for understanding seismograph testing, running title, abstracting, and heirship. That career transitioned me into land acquisition, negotiating right-of-ways for valve sits, compressor locations, and being on site during the construction for management. With that comes a plethora of knowledge in industrial infrastructure.
Upon moving to Tennessee, I have been an architectural interior designer for a design build company where I’ve designed and managed residential projects.
All of that, I believe, has provided me with those crucial project management skills that our town needs as it continues to grow and evolve.
Thompson's Station is a unique municipality in that it has maintained its rural character. How important is this to you, and do you plan on pushing for this to remain?
Preserving Thompson’s Station’s rural character and green space is very important to me.
From talking to residents, this seems to be one of the main reasons we all moved here. My husband and I have three horses that we plan on relocating from our in-laws' farm to some property we purchased in Thompson’s Station. After all, my husband and I lived in the country in Pennsylvania (my husband more so than I) so we have a strong attachment to the rural feel of our town.
What sold my husband and I on this beautiful town was when we drove by the Thompson’s Station equestrian hospital. You have this world class equestrian hospital in little Thompson's Station. I find that impressive and a testament to our community as a rural community with world class opportunities.
Are there any resolutions you have in mind that you may propose if elected?
From talking with residents, it seems some of the primary concerns are safety and transparency, and as an elected representative their concerns would be my concerns.
As our town has grown, and continues to grow, we have seen increased traffic on our roads. The economy has also changed so much in just the last four to six years that the traffic increase is from non-residents almost as much as it is from residents. With that, BOMA needs to really come together as a team and evaluate how we address this critical safety issue before we [get] pulled too far downstream from it.
Additionally, while we have made great strides in recording and streaming meetings, we’ve merely opened the door to them without providing good context to them. A resident should not have to guess where in the 2+ hour recording a particular agenda item was discussed.
I’d love to see our town become more proactive in the way it shares information, especially in a way that clearly communicates information as opposed to throwing everyone into the deep end of the pool and letting them figure it out on their own.
What is something you feel the town of Thompson's Station could improve on? (offering more amenities, lowering taxes, etc.)
As I shared in my previously, I feel that the town needs continued focus on its roads. My dad was an engineer at PennDOT (which is equivalent to TDOT) and [in] growing up with him talking about every road that we were on; I learned a lot.
Five years ago, we moved to Thompson’s Station while our house was being built, and I would go to the construction site to visit. I quickly noticed that our roads desperately needed improvement, and I will never forget expressing concern of an infamous hill that I was driving on, and horrifically there have been accidents on that road since then. Fast forward five years later, we are still driving on the same roads.
Along with that, we need to incorporate some sidewalks! Nowadays, it seems too common for people to be reactive instead of proactive about safety. These are our children learning to drive on these roads, and since we will always have 16 year-olds learning to drive, it is up to us to protect them as best we can.
As I knock on doors, I explain to residents that I am a God fearing mother of two that wants to ensure all parents and families know that I want to make sure this town becomes safe for our children, whether that be driving or walking throughout our community.
As far as amenities go, the residents want a small town with boutique shopping. Growth is good, but we must be strategic and smart about that growth.
Commercial development brings in tax revenue which the town could use to help fund these other critical projects. But we need to ensure that by bringing in those commercial spaces, we keep true to the heart of Thompson’s Station first and foremost and protect what we all fell in love with.
I do not believe in raising our property taxes. It is a dangerously easy route to go down when we have limited commercial businesses contributing to sales tax revenue. A common criticism is that we have the lowest already compared to our neighboring communities, but a reason we all moved here was because of the low property taxes and I aim to keep it that way.