Letter: Proud of Progress PAC endorsement, positive campaign

To the Editor:

I read the article in Wednesday’s The Oak Ridger where the reporter contacted the five candidates who were not endorsed by the Progress PAC for comments. I wonder why The Oak Ridger did not contact all the candidates.

Either way, I found most comments professional, and in particular Mike Mahathy’s and Jean Hiser’s and in general Andrew Howe’s. Both Andrew Howe’s and Laurie Paine’s, however, referenced me so I feel necessary to respond. [Read more...]


Letter: Questions candidate’s criticism of Library

To the editor:

Sadly, as a voter I have come to accept a certain amount of hyperbole, half-truths, and skewed statistics from candidates for federal and state offices. I’m sorry to see it reach our municipal election.

I’m talking specifically about the candidate for City Council, Doc Savara, whose platform and door-to-door campaign includes sharp criticism of the Oak Ridge Public Library, the library director, and staff. He alleges inefficient use of taxpayer dollars, bloated fees, and over-staffing, and he bases his findings on a check of national statistics and a story he has heard from a library patron who obviously had an unhappy experience. [Read more...]


Guest column: Smith responds to Progress PAC endorsement

Ellen Smith

Ellen Smith

By Ellen Smith

I was surprised and gratified by the recent news that the Progress PAC (the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce political action committee) endorsed my candidacy for City Council. To my dismay, several citizens have told me that this endorsement indicates that I have somehow “sold out” to the Chamber of Commerce. I am writing to respond to their allegations.

The Progress PAC endorsement was a surprise to me because I have never been aligned with the Chamber, I have strongly opposed some Chamber initiatives in the past, and I am not shy about my support for principles like conservation of publicly owned open space and putting the interests of existing residents and owners ahead of the interests of new business development.

However, I respect the Chamber as the main representative of and advocate for a very important element of our community—and a group whose members and volunteers who are passionate about the future of Oak Ridge. We share many common goals and interests for this community, and if we are going to make progress as a community, it’s necessary for government, the business community, our nonprofit sector, and (ideally) all citizens to try to understand each other’s interests and needs and work together for the benefit of all. [Read more...]

Guest column: Running for BOE to give hope, a voice to the 47 percent

Laurie Paine

Laurie Paine

By Laurie Paine

47 percent.

What do you think of when you hear that number? As a parent, I can tell you that if that was my child’s grade I would be heartbroken, concerned.

“How can I help?” would be my next thought.


47 percent is roughly how many Oak Ridge students are economically disadvantaged. This is one of the most frequently quoted statistics recently, and sadly, it is often used to justify spending for less-than-stellar results. Rarely, the children behind this number are even given a face or a name…

So who are the 47 percent? [Read more...]

Letter: Callison appreciates Progress PAC endorsement

Kelly Callison

Kelly Callison

To the Editor:

I appreciate the endorsement from the Progress PAC and the support from a broad range of residents.

As I have campaigned across the city from Glenwood to West Hills to Woodland, the concerns are the same as those of the PAC: the desire for exceptional schools, quality housing, and retail and industrial growth. These are the things Oak Ridgers are concerned about, and I intend to focus on these issues and bring the city together to move in a positive direction.

Kelly Callison

Oak Ridge City Council candidate

Letter: Baughn endorses Garcia Garland

Trina Baughn

Trina Baughn

To the Editor:

This election cycle, some candidates have characterized City Council deliberations as combative or regressive. The truth is, however, that of the hundreds of decisions made every year by City Council, the majority are made by unanimous vote. The same is true of the Board of Education and our boards and commissions.

A well-balanced government should not be stacked with all like-minded people whose primary goal is to achieve harmony. Some might argue that unanimity, which should not be mistaken for progress, is what has gotten us into many of the messes we are in. No, an elected body should allow for all voices to have the opportunity to be heard and considered. [Read more...]

Guest column: ‘One-shot’ voting unwise in Oak Ridge

Aditya "Doc" Savara

Aditya “Doc” Savara

By Aditya “Doc” Savara

“One-shot” voting is unwise in Oak Ridge.

This year, there are four seats for City Council and three seats for the Board of Education up for election in Oak Ridge.

A column that appeared online at Oak Ridge Today and in the print version of The Oak Ridger advocated “one-shot” voting—where a person only votes for a single candidate instead of using all four of their votes for City Council (or three for Board of Education). I disagree with that view and tell my supporters to vote for whomever they want on City Council.

There are 10 candidates for City Council. Let’s call them A,B,C,D…Suppose you like only two out of the 10 candidates, A and B, but like candidate A the most. With four seats available, the only time you would want to “one-shot A” is if you are afraid A and B are “neck and neck” for the last position with B beating A—for example, if the results turned out D,C,E,B,A,F,…where the first four win the election.

For any other situation, you would want to vote for both A and B. For example with D,B,A,C,E,F…you would want to vote for both A and B to make sure they both beat C. [Read more...]

Letter: Oak Ridge needs Chinn’s perspective, expertise

To the Editor:

Although I have never written an endorsement for any political candidates, I feel sincerely compelled to at this time.

Twenty-five years ago, I moved my family to Oak Ridge. I was not born here, had no family members here, nor did I relocate due to a job transfer or employment contract. I moved my family to this beautiful city for I desired to live in this community. I voluntarily chose Oak Ridge.

I started a business almost 24 years ago and earlier this year sold that business and am presently thoroughly enjoying retirement. Oak Ridge has been good to me and my family and God favored me over this past quarter of a century. And having the advantage of being a local business person, I want to cast my ballot in this year’s City Council election for Rick Chinn. [Read more...]

Guest column: The road to excellence

Mike Mahathy

Mike Mahathy

By Mike Mahathy

“Thus we began. With a sense of adventure, with a determination to make the most of a situation, we started out…looking forward to giving the children of Oak Ridge the best system we could develop.”

So said Dr. A.H. Blankenship years after accepting the role of starting the Oak Ridge school system.

From the very beginnings in 1943, Oak Ridge leaders wanted the best for their children. They choose a road less traveled by in this area.

Decades have passed, but there has remained one constant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee: a great school system where students have excelled in academics, the arts, music, athletics, and have gone on to be productive Americans. [Read more...]

Letter: Paine the best candidate for school board

To the Editor:

Laurie Paine is, by far, the best candidate for the Oak Ridge Board of Education. She’s loyal and fights hard for what she believes in.

I’ve witnessed first-hand her diligence in fighting to get the bus routes reinstated for children living closer to school. Her oldest daughter lost her life riding her bike home from school. It’s because of that tragedy that she fights harder and more diligently than anyone else. She’s determined and committed to do whatever’s necessary to ensure our children’s safety.

Rumors have spread about mistakes she’s made in the past. While other candidates seem focused on people’s faults, Laurie continues to press forward in fighting for people’s best interests. Sure, she’s made her fair share of mistakes, but who hasn’t. Often times we learn more by making mistakes. I believe that Laurie’s past has made her even more determined and focused to create a better and safer future for our kids. [Read more...]

Letter: Paine the right candidate for school board

To the Editor:

We are writing this letter in support of Laurie Paine, who is running for the Oak Ridge Board of Education. We have two children who attended Oak Ridge schools and are now pursuing college educations. We feel Ms. Paine has many excellent qualities that she can offer to the community by serving on the Board of Education.

Among those qualities would be her educational and work background. Ms. Paine has experience in both accounting and project management. As a project manager for several companies, Ms. Paine has worked with large budgets. She was the senior project manager for one company. We know personally that Ms. Paine is familiar with the Oak Ridge Schools budget as she has done research and has attended BOE budget meetings in the past. The tools she has gained with her business experience will prove to be invaluable in the budget deliberation process and other financial decisions the BOE must vote on. If elected, Ms. Paine will see to it that ORS and the BOE have financial accountability and transparency.

Secondly, Ms. Paine cares about Oak Ridge children and wants to make them a priority. Ms. Paine states that currently 47 percent of Oak Ridge students come from financially disadvantaged families. She wants to ensure that these students and all Oak Ridge students are given equal opportunities in our school system. She will work to fairly allocate resources to benefit all students, and she especially wants to give hope and a voice to those children with limited financial resources. [Read more...]

Guest column: Progress PAC helps broaden conversation of community issues

By Progress PAC

We are very proud that the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce has entrusted us to serve as the members of Progress PAC, the multi-candidate political action committee created by the Chamber and focused on our upcoming school board and city council elections. Though we are appointed by the Chamber’s Board of Directors, we operate independently from that same board.

Some people in the community have questions about how Progress PAC will operate, who we might support, and how endorsements might be made. Some have criticized the timing of Progress PAC’s establishment, and we acknowledge it could have been better. However, our primary goal is to have a positive impact in this election cycle.


Now that Progress PAC has been created, we are largely autonomous. The Chamber’s Board may not approve or disapprove of any endorsement decisions we may make; the Chamber’s Board cannot approve or disapprove of contributions that Progress PAC either receives or distributes. The Chamber contributes no funds to PAC operations; we are supported by donations made directly to the PAC and we must report those to the appropriate election commissions. [Read more...]