Editor’s note: Oak Ridge City Council member Rick Chinn has asked to be appointed mayor pro tem during a Monday, Dec. 12, meeting of the City Council. Here is a copy of a Dec. 7 letter he wrote to other city leaders.
City Manager Watson and Honorable Members of Oak Ridge City Council,
First, I would like to congratulate the new members elected to Council and express my enthusiasm in working with all the new and returning members of Council for the coming years. I feel we have a great group of members and know that if we work together we can accomplish some great things for the City of Oak Ridge. In my opinion, a key to making these great things happen is working together in electing and supporting Council leadership.
That said, I would like to officially announce my interest in becoming the new mayor pro tem.
Next, I would like to express my gratitude and support for Mayor Warren Gooch in his service as mayor for the past two years and his willingness to offer his service again. I feel he has done a fine job in bringing Council together to accomplish our common goals. I fully support him in his continued service in this role.
I believe the mayor and mayor pro tem positions are much more than cutting ribbons and running the monthly meetings.
The mayor, in my opinion, is the chief lobbyist of the city with the mayor pro tem assisting in a similar role. We are unique from most cities in the fact that our health as a city is tied closely to the choices that are made by both state and federal lawmakers. Maintaining that health depends on a mayor that has strong relationships with state and federal elected officials that will result in making meaningful accomplishments for our city.
In my many years of working behind the scenes in local politics, I have been able to build these strong relationships with our senators and congressmen. Likewise, I have worked over the years to build incredibly strong relationships with our two state senators (lieutenant governor) and our two state representatives, as well as the speaker of the House.
It is true that neither City Council nor mayor are partisan positions. I believe this is something that should never change The reality is that all of our state and federal legislative officials are currently members of the Republican Party. The years I have had working with the local GOP and helping to elect these officials gives me a unique ability to call on and compel them to work for what is best for Oak Ridge.
However, I feel my ability to collaborate with members of either party is a strength of mine as well. I also feel that I will be able to play well off the leadership that Mayor Gooch can provide from the Democratic side of the house.
I’m sure you will agree it is vitally important for Council to support whoever is elected to our two leadership positions. As Benjamin Franklin eloquently stated, “If we do not hang together, we shall surely hang separately.” The community needs to see that this Council can work together toward a common goal to help the city move in a positive direction.
Our community is at a crossroads. The decisions this Council makes in the coming session will shape our direction for a generation of current and future Oak Ridgers. I am committed to do all I can to move us in a positive direction and work toward attracting new families and additional diversified industries while continuing to help our existing businesses and residents.
I humbly ask for your support to the position of mayor pro tem.
R. G. “Rick” Chinn Jr.
Oak Ridge City Council
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