Meet the Candidate: Spike Hosch on Schools, Zoning, and Taxes
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of interviews with some of the local candidates running for office. State Primary and County General Election voting is Aug. 4.
Raised in the Lake Pontchartrain area of Louisiana, a University scholarship brought District 5 Franklin County Commission candidate Spike Hosch to Sewanee. After graduation, Hosch worked abroad in finance for several years and returned to the Mountain as a AmeriCorps VISTA to set up the nonprofit financial institution BetterFi, a loan alternative for the working poor and blue-collar employees preyed upon by pay-day lenders. Hosch’s even-handed views on schools, zoning and taxes reflect the broad ranging experiences he brings to the table.
“The push to move students away from public schools is scary,” Hosch said. “Sewanee Elementary School must be preserved. Public school is a big deal to me.”
Asked about how best to keep county schools safe, Hosch stressed, “Access to mental health resources is paramount and educating families. Families are closest to these things [school shootings] before they happen. Information to them is critical, what to be looking out for and what they can do. But arming teachers is ludicrous. Things could end up worse if something happens at a school. Gun control isn’t realistic in our current political climate. You also need to consider, though, the harder you make it to get something, the less likely someone will do something bad with it.” Hosch cited the example of cigarettes which now require the purchaser to verify they are 21 years old or older.
Turning to zoning, Hosch pointed to a recent county commission meeting where 20-30 neighborhood residents stepped forward to object to rezoning to allow for retail development. “The county commission listened,” Hosch said. The commission sided with the residents. “There’s a balance to be struck. When a person owns property, they have the right to decide what to do with it. But, some things don’t need to be next to residential neighborhoods.”
Hosch offered a similarly equitable opinion on whether the county commission should lower the property tax rate to prevent property owners from paying increased taxes due to increased property assessment valuations. “More revenue can be good,” Hosch said, “but with inflation at 10 percent and gas close to $5 per gallon, providing relief to residents by lowering the tax rate makes sense.” He argued for “a minimal year by year increase so the county isn’t losing money as the dollar gets weaker, but people aren’t hit with the full freight of appraisals going up.”
Hosch is running unopposed for District 5 Seat B. “I want to see Sewanee, Sherwood, and Keith Springs represented,” he insisted. “Ideally, I’d like for there to be multiple candidates to choose from and to see more involvement.”
Hosch plans to set up a dedicated email account and phone number for constituents to contact him. “What is the best way to be accessible to the people I represent?” Hosch asked. He welcomes ideas and suggestions.