School board candidates field questions on technology, tax increases

Oak Ridge Board of Education Forum

A. Paige Marshall, left, one of eight candidates for the Oak Ridge School Board, answers a question during the League of Women Voters’ Candidate Forum Wednesday night. To her right are candidates Mike Mahathy, Andrew Howe, Jean Hiser, and incumbent Bob Eby, with WUOT radio host Matt Shafer Powell, who posed the questions. (Photo by Rebecca D. Williams)


Fielding public school questions about technology, tax increases, and the teaching of science versus religion, eight candidates for the Oak Ridge School Board tried to distinguish themselves from one another Wednesday night at the League of Women Voters’ Candidate Forum held at the Oak Ridge High School Amphitheater, to a crowd of about 150.

Board candidates offered largely similar answers, with the greatest difference of opinion posed by Aaron Wells. He spoke against school tax increases and one-to-one technology in schools.

“The biggest impact on me growing up was when my teachers gave me one-to-one education,” Wells said. “How many hours a day are kids staring at a screen? It’s too many. We need to do more with less, because money’s tight. We’ve got to get back to the basics.”

Also participating in the forum were two candidates who are opposing incumbent Chuck Fleischmann, a Republican, for the District 3 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mary M. Headrick, a Democrat, and Cassandra J. Mitchell, an Independent, answered questions. Fleischmann was not present.

Also, Tennessee House Representative for District 32, Kent Calfee, the Republican incumbent, and Joe Kneiser, his Democratic opponent, fielded questions about four referendum questions on the ballot Nov. 4.

Three seats on the five-member Oak Ridge Board of Education are open. Bob Eby is the only incumbent running for re-election. Other candidates include Jean Hiser, Andrew Howe, Mike Mahathy, A. Paige Marshall, Laura McLean, Laurie Paine, and Wells. [Read more...]

DFET: Meet the candidates on Oct. 9

A local organization is sponsoring a Meet the Candidates event from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, October 9, in the Oak Ridge Civic Center Gymnasium. It’s been organized by Democracy for East Tennessee, and residents of Anderson and surrounding counties are invited, a press release said.

Candidates for the following offices have been invited: Oak Ridge City Council, Oak Ridge Board of Education, Tennessee House of Representatives 33rd District, State Senate 5th District, 3rd U.S. Congressional District, and U.S. Senate.

The election is November 4. The October 9 event will offer residents a chance to become better informed and acquainted with candidates by meeting with them on an individual basis at a single event, a press release said. [Read more...]

Frank, White re-elected; incumbents fare well, but some upsets

Steve Mead at Early Voting

Anderson County Commissioner Steve Mead, one of the incumbents re-elected Thursday, campaigns during early voting at the Midtown Community Center in Oak Ridge. (Photo by Fred O’Hara Jr.)


Terry Frank

Terry Frank

Note: This story was last updated at 2:10 p.m. July 8.

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank was elected to her first four-year term on Thursday, and Sheriff Paul White was elected to a third term.

The election featured several close races, including for sheriff and register of deeds, and there were a few upsets, including for Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk, County Commission District 3, and General Sessions Judge, Division II, where longtime Judge Ron Murch suffered defeat.

Paul White

Paul White

In the race for the Tennessee House, Representative John Ragan, an Oak Ridge Republican, beat back a primary challenge by newcomer Caitlin Nolan.

All 27 precincts have reported.

Here are the final unofficial election results for contested races:

Anderson County Mayor

  • Terry Frank, the Republican incumbent—7,586 (52.69 percent)
  • Jim Hackworth, a Democrat—6,193 (43.01 percent)
  • Bradley Rickett, an Independent—619 (4.3 percent)

Frank, who was first elected to a two-year term in a special election in August 2012, beat Hackworth, a former state representative and county commissioner, by about 1,400 votes. The two fought over a 1990 tax hike and “turmoil” and lawsuits in the Anderson County Courthouse.

Anderson County Sheriff

  • Paul White, the Democratic incumbent—7,386 (51.64 percent)
  • Anthony Lay, a Republican—6,918 (48.36 percent)

White’s margin of victory was just under 500 votes. Lay is a former sheriff in Scott County, and he is currently a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper. The two candidates battled over the food served at the Anderson County jail, crime rate statistics, and the responsiveness of the Sheriff’s Department, among other things. [Read more...]

Votes still coming in, but most incumbents in lead; few upsets possible

Anderson County Early Voting Campaign Signs

The Thursday election featured the Anderson County general election and the state and federal primaries. Pictured above are campaign signs during early voting at the Midtown Community Center in Oak Ridge.


Note: Please see this newer story for final results.

The votes are still coming in and the Anderson County Election Commission is repairing its website, but early results suggest most incumbents are faring well, although a few upsets are possible.

Here is a look at some preliminary voting results in Anderson County, as reported by BBB-TV, Channel 12 in Oak Ridge, with 16 of 27 precincts reporting. There could be a few upsets, including on Anderson County Commission and in the races for Anderson County General Session Judge, Division II, and Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk.

Anderson County Mayor

Terry Frank, the Republican incumbent, leads Jim Hackworth, a Democrat, and Bradley Rickett, an Independent.

Anderson County Sheriff

Paul White, the Democratic incumbent, leads Anthony Lay, a Republican.

Tennessee House of Representatives

Republican primary

John Ragan, the Republican incumbent, leads Caitlin Nolan, his GOP challenger. [Read more...]

Letter: Write-in House candidate says coal is obsolete

Leslie Agron EPA Clean Power Plan Hearing

Oak Ridge resident Leslie Agron testifies at an EPA clean power plan hearing in Atlanta on July 29. (Submitted photo)

Note: This is a copy of testimony given July 29 in Atlanta by Oak Ridge resident Leslie Agron, a write-in candidate in the Democratic primary for Tennessee House of Representatives on Thursday.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the EPA. Thank you for taking my testimony.

My name is Leslie Agron. I am from Oak Ridge, Tennessee. As the son of a Manhattan Project scientist, I was born and raised there. I grew up within walking distance of Appalachia.

I am currently a candidate for the Tennessee state legislature. I have previously served on Oak Ridge’s Environmental Quality Advisory Board. I hold an Executive MBA from The Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. Given that credential, the thrust of my remarks will be about business and business climate.

I hold that, contrary to industry remarks that coal makes jobs, coal is not good business. To be clear, in a historical sense, coal was very important to the development of America in the 19th and 20th centuries. During those historical times, coal very much enhanced the business climate of our country by supplying affordable energy when no other source of energy was available. [Read more...]

Letter: NRA endorses Ragan

To the Editor:

The National Rifle Association recently posted their candidate ratings for the Tennessee House of Representatives.

In the race for House District 33, State Representative John Ragan (R–Oak Ridge) received an A rating and the endorsement of the pro-Second Amendment organization.

According to a release from the NRA, Representative Ragan is their choice in the upcoming August 7 Republican primary. Since being elected to office in 2010, Ragan has supported various bill centered around protecting the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans. [Read more...]

House Speaker Harwell to visit Oak Ridge, Clinton on Friday

Beth Harwell

Beth Harwell

Beth Harwell, speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, will be in Clinton for a meet-and-greet at the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce on Friday afternoon.

The “Meet and Greet” is scheduled from 3-4:30 p.m. at the Chamber office at 245 North Main Street, Suite 200, in Clinton. The public is invited.

A Nashville Republican, Harwell also has other stops in Anderson County, starting in Oak Ridge on Friday morning. Joining her on the tour will be Tennessee Rep. John Ragan, an Oak Ridge Republican, the speaker’s office said in a press release.

The two are scheduled to be at the Boys and Girls Club in Oak Ridge for a meet-and-greet from 10-10:20 a.m. Friday and at the Emory Valley Center for a tour from 10:30-11 a.m. [Read more...]

2014 Election: Mayoral candidates ‘bicker’ over tax hikes, lawsuits

Anderson County Mayor Debate

The three candidates for Anderson County mayor are pictured above at a debate moderated by radio talk show host Hallerin Hilton Hill, left. Starting at center, the three candidates in the August 7 mayoral election are Terry Frank, the incumbent and a Republican; Democrat Jim Hackworth; and Independent Bradley Rickett.

CLINTON—She’s attacked him over a 24-year-old tax hike. He’s blasted her over lawsuits and turmoil in the Anderson County Courthouse.

The two candidates, Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank and her challenger, Jim Hackworth, will face off in the August 7 election.

Frank, a Republican, was first elected mayor in a special election in August 2012. Now she is running for her first four-year term.

Hackworth, a Democrat, is a former state representative and Anderson County commissioner.

The two have battled in forums, on radio shows, and through ads and flyers. Their political squabbles have largely ignored the third candidate, Independent Bradley Rickett. [Read more...]

Guest column: Burying the facts

In his guest column on July 4, Tennessee Representative John Ragan requests us to cast our ballots to hold government accountable. This is an excellent idea!

Hidden in Mr. Ragan’s rhetoric about IRS tyranny is the underlying economic policy he espouses: the notion that cutting taxes will lead us to prosperity in all circumstances. Our nation’s experiment with that fanciful notion has been a miserable failure for the last 30 years, causing incredible hardship on our people. It is now overwhelmingly discredited by economists from both sides of the aisle.

Mr. Ragan would likely be good enough with mathematics to have studied economics, but he seems to not have done so. In fact, it appears he learned his economics, not from the best in the field, but from politicians and the media. This has been greatly to the detriment of Tennessee.

In his 400-word column about government, Mr. Ragan mentions God four times—lest anyone be in doubt about his theory of governance. Despite the fact he lives in Oak Ridge and must surely know that this region is blessed by the diverse people drawn here from around the world by the scientific facilities, he chooses to represent only those who share his exact beliefs. [Read more...]

Roane Chamber has candidate forum Tuesday evening

Roane State Community College Harriman Campus

The Roane County Chamber has a candidate forum on Tuesday evening at Roane State Community College in Harriman, pictured above.

The Roane County Chamber has a candidate forum on Tuesday evening. It will feature candidates for Roane County executive, sheriff, Roane County Commission in District 4 (Oliver Springs), and Democratic and Republican candidates for Tennessee House of Representatives.

The forum will also feature candidates for County Commission, School Board, and City Council in Harriman, Kingston, and Rockwood.

The forum starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Roane State Community College’s O’Brien Theatre at 276 Patton Lane in Harriman. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the forum is expected to last until about 8:30 p.m. [Read more...]

Inspired by her son, Neergaard runs for state House

Misty Neergaard

Misty Neergaard

Inspired by her son’s efforts to shed light on the effects of bullying, Oak Ridge resident Misty Neergaard is running for the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Neergaard is unopposed in the state Democratic primary in District 33, which includes most of Anderson County, on Aug. 7. She will take on the winner of the Republican primary, which pits Rep. John Ragan, the incumbent, against newcomer Caitlin Nolan.

In a press release, Neergaard said her focus is on the need for Anderson County voters to have a voice in the Tennessee House.

“All too often Tennessee and its citizens are portrayed in a negative public light, Neergaard said in the release. “I know the people in Anderson County are kind and hard-working. They deserve a government who cares about them instead of scoring political points. Our family has been through some tough times, and the people of East Tennessee have been wonderfully supportive. It is time I give back.”

The release said Neergaard has been a dedicated mother and housewife for 18 years. Last summer, her son Marcel Neergaard created an online petition to help bring the effects of school bullying to light, the release said. [Read more...]

Senate approves Lake City’s name change to Rocky Top

Lake City Council Approves Rocky Top Name Change

The Lake City Council votes 4-0 in November to change the town’s name to Rocky Top, and Rep. John Ragan said he had draft legislation to approve the name change to introduce in the Tennessee General Assembly. (File photo)

WYSH Radio/Oak Ridge Today

A bill that will allow Lake City to officially change its name to Rocky Top was unanimously approved in the Tennessee Senate on Thursday, three days after the state House of Representatives also unanimously voted to support the measure.

Lake City Council members approved the name change, seen as a vital first step toward developing a Rocky Top theme park in the former coal mining town, in November. The bill will now go to Gov. Bill Halslam’s desk for his signature, then the Lake City Council must ratify it by a two-thirds majority.

The name change is seen as a necessary first step toward turning the former coal mining town into a tourist destination, taking advantage of its two exits off of I-75. Plans call for an interactive 3-D theater, a restaurant, a water park and a hotel, as well as other attractions. [Read more...]