This election season has been…..interesting. I have spent the last 4 years in office going out of my way to involve people in their local government and ensure the council was informed about where our electorate stands on a number of issues. While I don’t bring every single issue before our citizens on social media, I want to ensure some of the more momentous issues that could affect our lives the most are subjected to a public discourse. I am sure that is what carried me through the election and ensured a solid majority in a race that was unnecessarily messy at times. I want to talk about the election specifically and what my perspective is on how it all went down.
Obviously, the most noise was made by Paul Lee. He made several ridiculous claims that I was a drug convict and that I was stealing money from our city’s flag fund. One city voter recorded the conversation they had with Paul while he was campaigning, and he was telling people that I took money from the flag fund to buy my campaign t-shirts. I had more than one person tell me this, but the recording made it apparent he was, in fact, telling this to people. It would have been nice for Paul to have addressed that with me personally, but I believe his goal was to do as much damage as possible to my reputation than to find true answers. I also believe he was manipulated into believing some of these things by people within the city’s power structure.
Paul showed me anonymous letters he had received in which he was being told to pull open records requests with very specific dates and subjects in which only someone intimately involved with city business would have access. One of his requests was a specific date about a t-shirt/powder purchase in the year my event got rained out. Obviously this was an attempt to capture a narrow view of my efforts to raise money for the flag fund, and responding by providing the complete picture of those funds was the best way to bat away those claims. There were other open records requests that I would liken to finding a needle in a haystack. It was apparent that someone “in the know” was pushing him to find anything he could to use against me. I believe I know who originated those letters. It’s not hard to identify who at city hall has repeatedly tried to make me look as bad as possible. I also do not believe they were trying to help Paul win. The intent was to damage me to the point that Tony could win. For the record, I truly believe that Tony had nothing to do with any of this. He’s always been a stand up guy, and I have an even greater appreciation for him after this election.
Overall, I am excited about the new council and our opportunity to make some great things happen for our city. Even though there are some lingering personal/political issues, I think that the experience we currently have along with some new perspectives will serve our city well in representing our diverse population. I am happy to have Sara serving another term. She has been a steady hand the last four years. She has great expertise at the state level and builds relationships in a way that will benefit our city for the next four years. While we have been on different sides of some issues, I appreciate her professionalism. I feel like I have learned some things from her about handling tough interactions on contentious issues. Rhonda will bring a new perspective, and I’m looking forward to hearing her ideas and input on the direction of our city. She has shown a real fire to represent the people of this community. I’m thankful to have a new voice and fresh perspective, and I think the city made a great choice in bringing her on board to be a councilwoman. Jake also worked his tail off to win a seat this election, and I’m so happy for him. He campaigned on some things that I’m looking forward to implementing in the next year…specifically a dog park. We have the space to make that happen, and I’m excited to hear his thoughts on how bring it to fruition. I truly believe it can be one of the best cost to benefit ratio projects we can bring to the city. Also, I have the feeling that there is now a majority on the council committed to making that happen. He also has great expertise in many things the city deals with on a day to day basis. Jake has always been straightforward and honest. Having a straight shooter on any board makes the work and relationships much easier to manage.
My concerns moving forward are almost all political in nature. The city is in great financial position, and we have set a course that is sustainable and pro-growth with an exceptional plan to ensure our city is something we can all be proud of. I go out of my way to work with all the elected officials in my area and limit my disagreements to policy, but I will not shy away from calling out bad behavior. Specifically, the attempts to label fellow board members as unethical during our council meetings needs to stop. Disagreements on policy do not equal being unethical. It has happened repeatedly, and I will continue to publicly call out personal attacks for what they are. They are attempts to intimidate and punish people for having a viewpoint they do not agree with. I do believe the climate will markedly change with the new members voted in during this election cycle. Thank you again for the honor of serving a second term as the mayor of Ringgold. Please always feel free to contact me about anything you have a question or concern about.