Four City Council members say they’d like to be mayor

City of Oak Ridge Seal

Note: This story was updated at 3:03 p.m.

Four members of the new Oak Ridge City Council that starts Monday have announced that they would like to be mayor. One would like to also be considered for mayor pro tem.

The seven-member City Council, which has four new members, will appoint a mayor and mayor pro tem during its Monday night meeting. The City Council picks two of its members to serve as mayor and mayor pro tem after each municipal election every two years.

In letters to Council, current member Chuck Hope said he is interested in serving as mayor and so did City Council members-elect Rick Chinn and Warren Gooch.

Former City Council member Ellen Smith, who regained a seat in the November 4 election after an election loss two years ago, said she would like to be considered for mayor or mayor pro tem. Under the City Charter, the mayor pro tem presides at meetings when the mayor is absent or temporarily disabled. [Read more…]

City Council winners: Gooch, Chinn, Callison, and Smith

Five Oak Ridge City Council Candidate 2014

Three of the four candidates elected to the Oak Ridge City Council on Tuesday are pictured above during a September forum. Warren Gooch, second from left, was the top vote-getter, finishing ahead of Rick Chinn, second from right, and Kelly Callison, right. Incumbent Anne Garcia Garland, center, was not re-elected. Candidate Gary Love is also pictured.

 

Note: This story was updated at 1:28 a.m. Nov. 5.

Three newcomers and a former member were elected to the Oak Ridge City Council on Tuesday. The winners were Warren Gooch, Rick Chinn, Kelly Callison, and Ellen Smith.

There were four seats available, and two incumbents—Anne Garcia Garland and David Mosby—were unseated. Two other incumbents—Mayor Tom Beehan and Mayor Pro Tem Jane Miller—did not seek re-election, meaning a majority of the seven-member body will be new.

“It’s clearly a transitional election,” said Gooch, a lawyer and the top vote-getter. [Read more…]

Gooch, Chinn, Callison, Smith lead in early, absentee ballots

Warren L. Gooch

Warren L. Gooch

Oak Ridge City Council candidates Warren Gooch, Rick Chinn, Kelly Callison, and Ellen Smith lead in early and absentee ballots, according to early Anderson County and Roane County election results posted at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The Anderson County Election Commission and Roane County Election Commission have not yet posted precinct results from Election Day voting, so the leaders could change.

Gooch has 2,206 votes, which is several hundred ahead of Rick Chinn, who has 1,975.

Callison has 1,860, and Smith, a former City Council member, has 1,649. [Read more…]

2014 Election: Interest in mayor position, mall redevelopment, better ties with BOE

Oak Ridge City Council Candidate Forum

Nine of the 10 Oak Ridge City Council candidates are pictured above. From right, they are Kelly Callison, Rick Chinn, incumbent Anne Garcia Garland, Warren Gooch, Gary Love, incumbent David Mosby, Pedro Otaduy, former Council member Ellen Smith, and Eric Tobler. Not pictured is Aditya “Doc” Savara.

 

A majority of the Oak Ridge City Council candidates said they would consider running for mayor or vice mayor if elected on Tuesday, and almost all supported the incentives recommended for the proposed redevelopers of the former Oak Ridge Mall.

The candidates were mixed on whether to bring back red-light cameras, and most seemed to think the city’s property tax rate is about right, in light of current budget needs.

Asked to grade the current Council as leaders, the candidates handed out grades ranging from “A” to “F.”

In a series of recent forums, the candidates generally advocated for better communication between the City Council and Oak Ridge Board of Education and, for the most part, seemed to be in favor of taking over Clark Center Park in south Oak Ridge, although their approvals would hinge on factors such as cost and property restrictions.

There are 10 candidates running for four seats on the seven-member Council in Tuesday’s election. Two of the incumbents—Anne Garcia Garland and David Mosby—are seeking re-election—and two others—Mayor Tom Beehan and Mayor Pro Tem Jane Miller—are not.

Many consider it a critical election, with a business boom under way and major projects on the horizon, including the proposed redevelopment of the mall and the planned $6.5 billion Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 National Security Complex.

The new Council is expected to elect a new mayor and mayor pro tem (like a vice mayor) during its next meeting after Tuesday’s election.

Here is a look at some of what the candidates said during the recent forums. [Read more…]

Garcia Garland running for re-election to City Council

Anne Garcia Garland

Anne Garcia Garland

Oak Ridge City Council member Anne Garcia Garland is running for re-election in the November 4 municipal election.

In a press release, Garcia Garland said the City Council has now begun to function like a team, the vision she had for it when she was first elected.

“The five members who have been meeting to consider policy and long-term planning have begun to realize how much more can be accomplished in this way,” Garcia Garland said. “I believe that if we can do this as a Council, then we should be able to work in a similar manner with the Board of Education and move forward together.”

Actions by the city government have shown that TIFs (tax increment financing) are useful for investing in new businesses, and the growth of the Illinois Avenue corridor is healthy, Garcia Garland said. She said Council encouraged the Kroger development by changing zoning and permitting traffic signals, and that center inspired the investment in Oak Ridge by the new mall developers. [Read more…]

Reception for Garcia Garland, running for re-election

There will be a reception for Oak Ridge City Council member Anne Garcia Garland on Sunday at the Comfort Inn on Rutgers Avenue. Garcia Garland is running for re-election in the November 4 municipal election.

The reception is from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, October 5.

“Citizens are invited to have a bit of punch or wine and small finger foods and talk with the candidate,” a press release said. “Those interested will be able to pick up a campaign sign and even volunteer to canvas a few houses or blocks.”

Mall project clears critical hurdle Monday

Oak Ridge Village Area Rendering

 

Tim Sittema

Tim Sittema

Council, IDB approve TIF extension, grant, roadway work

The proposed redevelopment of the Oak Ridge mall cleared a critical hurdle on Monday when city officials agreed to extend a property tax agreement for the 59-acre project, authorize $2 million in roadway and other infrastructure work, and offer a $500,000 grant if some federal funding is not approved.

Officials described the proposed redevelopment, named Main Street Oak Ridge, as an $80 million project that could fill a “hole in the heart” of Oak Ridge, bring new retail life to the city’s downtown, and build a lasting legacy.

Monday’s moves were meant to reduce the risk for four local lenders that could combine to offer $13 million in loans to part of the redevelopment under a tax increment financing, or TIF, agreement. That incentive would use new property tax revenues generated at the mall site and 120 surrounding acres included in the TIF area to repay those loans. Officials said the loans could be repaid in 18 years, according to financial models.

David Bradshaw

David Bradshaw

But in two separate special meetings on Monday, the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board and Oak Ridge City Council agreed to extend the TIF term from 20 years to 30. That extra 10 years is meant to act as a “shock absorber” and help make sure that the banks are repaid if there is a “glitch” in the project that would push the repayment past the previously approved 20-year term, officials said.

“This is not a ‘home run’ project for us as financial institutions,” said David R. Bradshaw, Oak Ridge president of CapitalMark Bank and Trust, one of the financial institutions that could participate. But, he added, “It is the right thing to do for the community.” [Read more…]

Chamber forms Progress PAC, two Council members seek legal action

Trina Baughn

Trina Baughn

Note: This story was updated at 10:30 a.m.

Two Oak Ridge City Council members have requested a special meeting this week to consider litigation against the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce, seeking to prevent the business organization from conducting political activities on public property, including through a new political action committee.

The special meeting, which would be open to the public, has been requested by Oak Ridge City Council members Trina Baughn and Anne Garcia Garland. Baughn said she requested the meeting to “vote upon initiating litigation against the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce so that the city may seek either injunctive relief and/or a temporary restraining order with regards to their conducting political activities on public property.”

Stephen Whitson

Stephen Whitson

On Friday, the Chamber announced it had formed a political action committee named the Progress PAC. The multi-candidate PAC will support candidates in the November elections for Oak Ridge Board of Education and City Council, a press release said.

Stephen Whitson of Oak Ridge has been elected Progress PAC chair, and David Bradshaw, also of Oak Ridge, has been named treasurer. Both are past chairs of the Chamber’s Board of Directors.

In the press release, Whitson said the Progress PAC will only consider supporting candidates who respond to an issue-based written questionnaire and participate in an interview with Progress PAC members. [Read more…]

Guest column: Council looks to future in policy, planning meetings

Note: This is a brief report to the town on Oak Ridge City Council meetings on policy and planning.

Following a vote in June to do so, City Council has been having two policy and planning meetings each month.

At our first meeting, we agreed to follow the general outline of the Comprehensive Plan in order to give ourselves focus. We added a section for the U.S. Department of Energy. Council members Chuck Hope, Trina Baughn, David Mosby, Charlie Hensley, and Anne Garcia Garland have been attending. City attorney Ken Krushenski, a couple of interested citizens, and the press have attended also.

The most encouraging outcome so far has been that the five have begun to operate as a team. We are looking at ways to improve the council’s effectiveness.

Those who follow the Council agenda online will have noticed that Monday’s agenda included a resolution from Council to have four things occur: [Read more…]

Nineteen candidates for Oak Ridge City Council, School Board

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Note: This story was last updated at 2 p.m.

Ten candidates have qualified to run for Oak Ridge City Council in the November 4 municipal election, and there are nine candidates for Oak Ridge Board of Education—a total of 19 candidates.

It’s the largest field of candidates in recent memory, and it’s not immediately clear when, or if, there has been a field as large.

The deadline to qualify as a candidate in this fall’s municipal elections in Anderson County was noon Thursday.

There is a mix of incumbents and newcomers in Oak Ridge, Clinton, Rocky Top (Lake City), Norris, and Oliver Springs.

Oak Ridge

In Oak Ridge, two incumbents, including Mayor Tom Beehan and Mayor Pro Tem Jane Miller, are not seeking re-election. Meanwhile, the other two incumbents whose terms expire this November, Anne Garcia Garland and David Mosby, are running for another four-year term.

In addition to Garcia Garland and Mosby, the other Oak Ridge City Council candidates are:

  • Kelly Callison,
  • R.G. “Rick” Chinn,
  • Warren L. Gooch,
  • Gary L. Love,
  • Pedro J. Otaduy,
  • Aditya “Doc” Savara,
  • Ellen D. Smith, and
  • Eric Tobler.

[Read more…]

Mayor Beehan won’t seek re-election to City Council

Tom Beehan and Gary Wade

Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan, left, is pictured above earlier this month with Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade at Razzleberry’s Ice Cream Lab and Kitchen. Beehan will not seek re-election to Oak Ridge City Council in November.

 

Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan, who has served on the City Council since 2001, will not seek re-election in November.

Beehan said he has been considering whether to run “for some time,” and he announced his decision to not seek re-election on Wednesday. Before making the decision, Beehan said, he wanted to be sure that quality candidates with a vision for the city’s future were ready to run.

“It’s clear that there are candidates who have the vision and ability to serve the community on City Council,” Beehan said in a press release. “I have enjoyed serving Oak Ridge as mayor and as a City Council member, but I think it is time for new leadership to take a fresh look at moving Oak Ridge forward.”

Beehan said he has spent 20 years as an elected official in local government in Oak Ridge and in Covington, Kentucky—before his family moved to Oak Ridge.

“I consider this a retirement from public service as an elected official, but I plan to continue to be engaged in community activities,” Beehan said. [Read more…]

Thursday deadline to qualify for municipal elections across Anderson County

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Thursday is the deadline to qualify for municipal elections across Anderson County, and so far, there appears to be a mix of incumbents and newcomers in Oak Ridge, Clinton, Rocky Top (Lake City), Norris, and Oliver Springs.

Eleven people, including the four incumbents, have expressed an interest in running for four seats on Oak Ridge City Council in November, and seven candidates have qualified so far.

Meanwhile, three people, including one incumbent, have qualified to run for three seats on the Oak Ridge Board of Education. A total of nine potential candidates, including the three who have qualified, have picked up petitions to run for Oak Ridge school board.

The November 4 election is the last in a series of three elections this year. The deadline to qualify is noon Thursday, August 21. A candidate needs 25 verified signatures on a nomination petition to qualify.

Those who have qualified to run for Oak Ridge City Council are: [Read more…]