Andy Neill, 60, was born in Cleveland and grew up in Blount County. He attended elementary school in Oneonta and graduated from J.B. Pennington High School in 1969. He attended college for one year at Jacksonville State and one year at Auburn University, in the pre-veterinary program, before returning to Blountsville to go into full-time farming. He lives on Adams Road in the Mt. Tabor community with his wife Rhonda Brown Neill. He has three sons: Greg, 41; Mike 38; and Wes, 33.
Work background Neill has spent 40 years as a full-time poultry and cattle farmer. He served two years on the Blountsville Town Council and served 23 years on the Blount County Board of Education, 17 years as its chairman. He points out he was elected chairman in 1994 as the only Republican on an all-Democratic school board, attributing that to his steady temperament and leadership ability.
What do you see as the major problem with maintaining and improving county roads? Neill: “In the five years from 2007 to 2012, county revenues have increased 26 percent. The price of tar – what we call CRS-2 – has increased 328 percent. Gravel has increased 266 percent. Fuel has increased 66 percent. That’s the problem: the rising costs of paving relative to the increase in revenues. And tar is expected to go up again this spring.”
What do you consider a significant achievement in the period you served as District 2 commissioner? Neill: “District 2 is the largest district in the county with over 350 miles of roads. In the last six years before 2012, tar and gravel funds have been split evenly – 25 percent apiece – between the four districts. Last fall, I negotiated and received 28 percent of tar and gravel
What would you like to accomplish if elected to another term? Neill: ”I want to concentrate on improving our farm-to-market roads. That’s important. They’re all going to need attention in the next two to five years. That’s not just a Blount County problem. It’s a statewide problem, a national problem. “Second, in the past citizens have not always trusted the commission in its handling of issues. I want to make sure the public knows we’re doing all we can to do the best job possible for Blount County. Third, I want us to do everything we can to improve the economic climate and make the county attractive to businesses that might locate here.”
Why do you want the job? Neill: “I’ve always enjoyed public service. Yes, it’s a lot of headaches. Yes, a lot of times you just want to throw up your hands and give up. But I enjoy working with the public. I don’t get mad when dealing with a problem. I believe the good Lord gave me the communications ability to work with people on the problems they have. You can work with people if you respect them and deal with them that way.”
Neill’s statement to voters “I was appointed District 2 commissioner in January 2011, and I promised my crew they would be treated with respect, and that we would work in the entire district. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly. In 26 years of holding public office I have always returned phone calls as soon as possible, and will talk with anyone about their concerns. Experience is important and I have the experience to make sure Blount County’s financial condition is sound, that it will always operate within the revenues we receive. Our finances are simple, but not easy. The simple part: you can’t spend more than you receive. The hard part: making sure all departments have ample funds to provide safety and service to the public.”