David Sampley: "Responding to People’s Needs"

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: This is the third and final in a series of interviews of the mayoral candidates for the Town of Monteagle.

Monteagle mayoral candidate David Sampley has lived in Monteagle his entire life. From a large family of eight siblings, responding to people’s needs is second nature to Sampley. He took EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) classes at Grundy County High School, and working for the ambulance service soon led to a career in nursing. After earning a degree at McMinnville Vocational Technical College, he took a job at the Monteagle nursing home managed by Health Care Capital and rose to the position of supervisor. His 12-and-a half-year career there ended abruptly in 1996, when he blew the whistle on patient abuse and was fired.

He testified several times in the subsequent lawsuit that resulted in new owners taking over the facility. “Why are you doing this?” his sister asked, after seeing lawyers attempt to discredit him on the witness stand. “I feel like I don’t have a choice. It’s something I have to do.”

Commitment and responsiveness to people’s needs is the driving force behind Sampley’s campaign for mayor. If elected, he would designate a staff member to take calls from residents with concerns and work directly with the staffer to find a solution. “People who’ve lived here all their lives feel pushed aside,” Sampley said. “‘I complained and nothing was ever done’—you hear that a lot.”

From the time Sampley’s father served as mayor during Sampley’s high-school years and continuing through Sampley’s service as a Monteagle alderman in the early 1980s, Sampley watched the town struggle with bad credit and economic woes. During that era there was talk of  “turning Monteagle into a little Gatlinburg,” a strategy Sampley opposes. “I love the small town feel of the community,” he said. He pointed out that homes have become expensive in Monteagle, and people raised here can’t afford to live here. He’s seen many restaurants fail and cites a need for “stable businesses” like Tag Plastics in Tracy City. “I’d like to see the planning commission and council draft a plan to draw businesses and advertise for businesses to locate here,” Sampley said.

Sampley worries about bored young people spending all their time pecking on phones and video games and their subsequent lack of social skills. As mayor, he’d establish a committee of parents to “come up with ideas for giving kids things to do in the town.”

Addressing his concerns about senior citizens and shut-ins, Sampley wants to reinstitute a program previously in place in the community in which registered seniors phoned the police dispatcher once a day. If a senior didn’t phone in, an officer would visit the home to make sure all was well.

Sampley is currently the director at the Tracy Clinic, a position he’s held since 1996. He’s also served as a volunteer police officer and dispatcher for Monteagle and volunteer deputy for the Grundy County Sheriff’s Department. People he knows in the community approached him and asked him to run for mayor. “The mayor and alderman are employees of the people,” Sampley stresses, “and the people should be involved in every decision. But to get people involved, you need to make them feel part of the community. If people feel wanted and welcome, they’ll step forward to help.”