Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch will seek re-election as mayor later this month, and Mayor Pro Tem Rick Chinn wants to serve again as mayor pro tem.
The Oak Ridge City Council will elect two of their seven members as mayor and mayor pro tem at a meeting on Tuesday, November 27. The mayor and mayor pro tem, who serves in the mayor’s absence, serve two-year terms. Under the City Charter, they are chosen by Council after each municipal election every two years.
While Gooch is currently mayor, Council member Rick Chinn is now the mayor pro tem. In Oak Ridge, the daily responsibilities of running the city are delegated to a city manager, who is selected by Council. The mayor and mayor pro tem cast votes during City Council decisions, and the mayor—or mayor pro tem when the mayor is not available—leads City Council meetings, signs ordinances and resolutions, and serves as the ceremonial head of the city, among other duties.
If he is re-elected later this month, it would be Gooch’s third two-year term as mayor. It would be Chinn’s second term as mayor pro tem.
It’s not clear yet if anyone else will seek to serve as mayor or mayor pro tem. Council members have usually announced their interest in letters written to the other six Council members.
Gooch told Oak Ridge Today he would seek re-election during an interview after a City Council meeting on Monday night. Chinn provided a copy of a letter announcing his intent to seek re-election on Tuesday.
Both Gooch and Chinn were re-elected to four-year terms on City Council in the regular municipal election on Tuesday, November 6. Two other incumbents—Council members Kelly Callison and Ellen Smith—were re-elected as well. So was Derrick Hammond, who was elected in a special election to serve the last two years of the four-year term of former Council member Hans Vogel, who resigned in June to move to a new job in Idaho.
It was the least competitive City Council election in recent years. Hammond had no opposition in his election, and the four incumbents had only one challenger, Tim Stallings, a total of five candidates for four seats. In comparison, there were seven candidates for three seats in the 2016 election, and there were 10 candidates for four seats in the 2014 election.
Gooch, who received the most votes in last week’s election, said at least 90 percent of the comments he received while campaigning were positive.
“People across the city, east to west, think the city is headed in the right direction,” Gooch said. “The election confirmed the public confidence in the current members of City Council. I am thankful and humbled by that.”
In his letter on Tuesday, Chinn cited some of the successes.
“The voters of Oak Ridge spoke loudly by re-electing all four incumbents to serve another four years on Tuesday’s ballot,” he said. “I congratulate my fellow Council members on their election and look forward to working together with them for another four years. I think we should continue to build on the success and momentum we have established. Main Street retail development, new residential on both the east and west end golf courses, new residential at the Preserve, and new industrial announcements like Coqui Pharmaceuticals in the East Tennessee Technology Park are just a few examples or recent success stories this Council has helped bring to the City of Oak Ridge.”
Chinn said he plans to support Gooch as mayor.
“We have worked well together in representing Oak Ridge on both the state and federal level,” Chinn said. He cited his relationships with state and federal officials and work on issues that have affected Oak Ridge, including grants for Blankenship Field and The Oak Ridge Gateway.
Although the city is headed in the right direction, there is still work to do, Gooch said. Among the immediate tasks are considering proposed revisions to the second phase of Main Street Oak Ridge, the 58-acre redevelopment of the former Oak Ridge Mall. The Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission will consider the proposed revisions on Thursday. The City Council is expected to consider them after planning commissioners make a recommendation, possibly on Thursday.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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