Gooch elected mayor, Smith mayor pro tem

Oak Ridge City Council November 2014

The new Oak Ridge City Council is pictured above. From right they are new member Kelly Callison, continuing member Charlie Hensley, new members Rick Chinn and Warren Gooch, continuing members Chuck Hope and Trina Baughn, and new member Ellen Smith. Council members are elected in staggered terms, so Baughn, Hensley, and Hope won’t be up for election until 2016. Callison, Chinn, Gooch, and Smith won their seats in the November 4 municipal election.


Note: This story was last updated at 9 a.m. Nov. 25.

New Oak Ridge City Council member Warren Gooch has been appointed mayor, and returning City Council member Ellen Smith has been elected mayor pro tem.

The two were appointed to serve two-year terms by the seven-member Oak Ridge City Council during a Monday night meeting, the first after the November 4 municipal election.

It’s the first elected office for Gooch, a lawyer, although he previously ran for Anderson County mayor in August 2012. Gooch was the top vote-getter in the November 4 municipal election, and he is the city’s 10th mayor, according to City Council member Chuck Hope, who also sought to be mayor.

“I do think our best days are ahead of us,” Gooch said after two members switched votes and cast ballots for him, breaking an impasse that had lasted through five rounds of voting. “Great things happen here every day, and they have for 70 years.” [Read more…]

Letter: Asks City Council to appoint Gooch as mayor

To the Editor:

Let me begin by saying thank you to those members of both City Council and the School Board who elected to not run again, and to those who did run but were not successful in their efforts. I appreciate each of them stepping up to the plate to make this community a better place, and I hope they all continue to remain active in a positive manner to keep this community moving forward.

Also, with the most recent election behind us and several new faces taking on the leadership responsibilities for the city and school system, I look forward to each of the newly elected representatives bringing their vision to the table and working with the existing members to make Oak Ridge an outstanding community to live, work, and play.

During the November 24 City Council meeting, City Council members will be electing a new mayor for a two-year term. In our “weak mayor” form of local government, the mayor has no power outside of Council, so the mayoral role is solely to lead the City Council meetings and to be the main representative of the city for various meetings, activities, and events. [Read more…]

Letter: Grateful for opportunity to vote for Headrick

To the Editor:

I, for one, along with the tens of thousands of others who voted for Mary Headrick, am grateful to her for giving us the opportunity to vote for a realistic, compassionate, and results-oriented candidate.

The people who did not vote in the election at all, although they may not have thought about it that way, helped elect, and expressed approval, of a representative who was clearly against a living wage, women’s rights, affordable health care, and a merciful response to the crisis of young people fleeing to this country as well as those who found themselves in this country as young people brought by their parents, who have always lived as Americans and would like citizenship.

As a Democrat, I expect national Democrats will not be petty and vengeful because the other party won with the backing of huge interests which think paying workers well will hurt them, instead of bringing them more prosperity.

It is the nature of Democrats to want to see people’s lives improved even if they are not the majority, and they will continue to work toward this end.

Virginia M. Jones

Oak Ridge

School Board winners: Eby, McLean, Marshall

Four Oak Ridge Board of Education Candidates

The three winning Oak Ridge Board of Education candidates are pictured above. Bob Eby, second from right, the only incumbent, was the top vote-getter. He was followed by candidate Laura McLean, right, and Paige Marshall, left. Also pictured is Andy Howe.


Note: This story was last updated at 1:35 a.m. Nov. 5.

Imagine this: A politician runs for re-election and tells voters he wants to raise taxes—and they re-elect him anyway. Seems unlikely, right?

Well, that’s what happened Tuesday night in Oak Ridge.

Bob Eby, the only incumbent in the eight-person race for the Oak Ridge Board of Education, hasn’t been afraid to tell voters that he thinks Oak Ridge Schools need more money—and he intends to ask for a tax increase next year to help the school system.

His honesty hasn’t hurt him with voters; Eby was the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s municipal election. He finished with 4,635 votes in Anderson and Roane counties, according to unofficial results. That was almost 900 votes ahead of the second-place finisher, newcomer Laura McLean. She ended the night with 3,774 votes.

Another newcomer, Paige Marshall, was about 400 votes behind McLean, picking up the third of the three available seats with 3,345 votes. [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…]

2014 Election: Constitutional amendments, wine in groceries, a candidate’s record

League Women Voters Constitutional Amendment Forum

Corinne Rovetti, co-director and family nurse practitioner for the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health, second from right, discusses Amendment 1, which is on Tuesday’s ballot, during a forum in October. Also pictured are moderator JoAnn Garrett, right; Judy Cornett, second from left, distinguished professor in the College of Law at the University of Tennessee, who discussed Amendment 2; and Sherry Davis Kasper, professor of economics at Maryville College, who discussed Amendment 3.


Many voters remain confused about the four proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot in Tennessee on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4.

Three of the amendments were discussed during a League of Women Voters forum in Oak Ridge in October, and you can find a guide to the four amendments here.

The first amendment, Amendment 1, is related to abortion, and it appears to be the most divisive.

Here’s the full text of the proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution:

“Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”

[Read more…]

2014 Election: School board candidates talk taxes, budgets, bus routes, Preschool

Oak Ridge Board of Education Candidates 2014

Oak Ridge Board of Education candidates are, from right, Mike Mahathy, Laura McLean, Bob Eby, Andy Howe, Paige Marshall, and Jean Hiser. Not pictured are Laurie Paine and Aaron Wells.


Note: This story was last updated at 10:10 a.m. Nov. 3.

School board candidates at two forums this campaign season expressed optimism that school officials will be able to continue to provide school bus transportation to most students in the next school year, and several said they would support a property tax rate increase if it were deemed necessary.

Bob Eby, Oak Ridge Board of Education vice chair, cited delayed staff raises and textbook purchases as well as capital project needs. Eby helped lead moves this summer to restore bus transportation to preschool students and then other students after the area where bus service is not provided was temporarily expanded to 1.5 miles as part of cost-cutting measures in June.

In August, Karen Gagliano, Oak Ridge Schools director of business and support services, said the $500,000 in fund balance money used to restore transportation and the delayed purchase of textbooks, among other things, means the school system could start the Fiscal Year 2015 budget discussions with a $1.8 million deficit, before anything new is added.

“I will ask for a tax increase next year,” Eby said. “We’ve put (off) all we can put off.” [Read more…]

Letter: Smith informed, intelligent, civil, sensible

To the Editor:

Oak Ridgers are fortunate in having a candidate of the caliber of Ellen Smith willing to once again serve on City Council, where, between 2007 and 2012, we benefited greatly from her wise, intelligent, and highly informed voice.

In addition to her service on Council, Ellen has long been involved in community affairs, and has participated in local government. This, plus her professional background, has made her a strong and consistent advocate for protecting the environmental values of lands and waters of the city and of the Oak Ridge Reservation.

Her activities have also given her a broad understanding of governmental matters additional to the diverse environmental issues and concerns that face Oak Ridge. She is committed to be part of a community leadership that recognizes the challenges we face and makes choices that maximize our assets and opportunities. [Read more…]

AC Commission replaces Phillips with Bates

Zach Bates

Zach Bates

WYSH Radio/Oak Ridge Today

The Anderson County Commission has voted to replace Chris Phillips in Commission District 4 with the man whose vacated seat he won in August.

Phillips resigned his Commission seat—won in the August 7 election—so that he could return to work as the county’s budget and accounts director after leaving that post earlier this year to become city recorder in his native Rocky Top. Phillips left the county government to help the town update its accounting practices as it makes the transition from Lake City to Rocky Top and prepares for what is expected to be a busy time for the city. [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: 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…]