Upbeat and outspoken, Buddy Gambill, a Rutherford County native, is gearing up for another election as current Road Superintendent Mike Williams has decided not to run for re-election.
“I was surprised to hear he was retiring,” Gambill said. “Williams has run a good department.”
Eager to get elected, Gambill first ran for the position while in his 30s. Twenty years later at the age of 65, he’s still giving it his best shot.
“I’ve always run a decently good race, and it always gives you a desire to run one more time,” Gambill said.
Only 200 votes from beating Williams in the last election, Gambill could be closing in on the job, though he knows that each election is unique.
A strong believer in his party, Gambill has always run on the Republican ticket, even though it wasn’t always the favored option in the county.
“I was a Republican when Republicans weren’t popular in Rutherford County,” Gambill said. “The Republican values fit me better, and I couldn’t sell my beliefs for a position.”
Gambill believes he could save the county some money and run the Highway Department more efficiently.
“Anytime you have a government department, there’s a tendency to spend money in certain ways,” Gambill said. “I believe we could save some money and still have a good department.”
As the owner and operator of Buddy Gambill’s Surplus Sales for more than 20 years, he believes his experience as a business owner would cut down on wasteful spending.
“Self-employed all my life, I would have more of an outlook on trying to spend the dollar more wisely whether buying equipment or paving roads,” he said. “I’m not saying that Mike (Williams) didn’t do a good job, I’m saying that coming from my own business I could do it in a more efficient manner.”
If elected, he would try to take politics out of the department and make sure that employees have something to do year round to avoid job cuts, Gambill said.
“The men that work out there have families. They certainly don’t need to be cut. We would find something to do year round,” he said.
Gambill’s company is in the business of selling heavy equipment and rock used as a road base along with other services.
If elected, Gambill said his son would take over the business.
Gambill quickly said no when asked if he would buy equipment from his son to use in the county.
“I couldn’t buy anything from my son. I’m not going to bring that kind of suspension, and I think that is criminal,” Gambill said.
“We use older equipment, and it would be a conflict of interest, and you don’t do things like that. That’s something I could not do,” he said.
Gambill said he has been so tenacious about being the road superintendent because he simply has always thought he would enjoy doing the job.
Gambill recalled the first time he ran for road superintendent against incumbent Willard Richardson.
“I knew I didn’t have a chance to beat him because he was a good man,” he said, “but you gotta’ start somewhere.”
Gambill has some competition in the coming months as County Commissioner Joe Frank Jernigan (6th Dist.) confirmed he will be running as a Republican for the position as well.
After 23 years, it could be Gambill’s year, but if not, he said he enjoys the race.
“I’ve always managed to make a few friends,” Gambill said.