Note This story was updated at 10 a.m.
Four candidates for Oak Ridge City Council and all three candidates running for Oak Ridge Board of Education running in the election today (Tuesday, November 6) have earned endorsements by Progress PAC.
Three City Council incumbents—Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch, Ellen Smith, and Kelly Callison—received the PAC endorsements as did Tim Stallings, who previously served on the City Council in the 1990s.
School Board candidates Laura McLean, Ben Stephens, and Erin Webb—who are all serving on the BOE now and are running unopposed—also received the political action committee’s nod, a press release said.
Progress PAC, which was created by the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce but which operates independently, endorses City Council and School Board candidates who ask for the committee’s support and who are supportive of the Chamber’s mission, vision, and key legislative priorities, the press release said.
“Only candidates who returned a PAC-provided questionnaire and who were interviewed by PAC members were considered for endorsement,” said Progress PAC Chairman Stacy Myers. “All of the candidates for school board and four candidates for Oak Ridge City Council took part, and everyone who did participate received progress PAC support.”
Incumbent Council member Derrick Hammond, who is running unopposed for his single seat in a special election after former Council member Hans Vogel resigned, informed PAC leadership that he could not take part due to a family member’s illness and the committee did not receive a response from incumbent Mayor Pro Tem Rick Chinn, the press release said. (In a guest column, Chinn has explained his reasons for not seeking the endorsement.)
All questionnaires that were returned to the PAC and that were the foundations of Progress PAC interviews may be found on the Progress PAC Facebook page at Oak Ridge Progress PAC.
“To ensure transparency, candidates receiving Progress PAC endorsement are not informed of the PAC’s decisions until they are made public,” Myers said, “and we do not coordinate with any candidate or campaign.”
PAC Treasurer John Smith elaborated that endorsed candidates receive the same press releases that the news media does and at the same time.
“They see our advertising at the same time the voters do,” he added. “We have never contributed to any campaign. All of our financial support comes from individual and corporate contributions contributed directly to the PAC, and we report to the election commissions in Anderson County and Roane County.”
In addition to Myers and Smith, Progress PAC members are Mark Harvey, Charles Crowe, Austin Lance, and Steve Whitson. All committee members are Oak Ridge residents.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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