Spring forward, fall back! As we set back our clocks, let’s not set back our City as well. Election day for Mayor of East Ridge is on us.
For those of us who have been watching the happenings in East Ridge over the years see only one clear choice.
Brian Williams has two years under his belt now as a council member. He has faced a lot of criticism for the city establishing the East Ridge Housing and Redevelopment Authority. I hope the critics also give credit to Brian for leading the charge to officially dissolve the HRA.
In the beginning, Brian, like many others, felt the HRA had the potential to benefit East Ridge by cleaning up the commercial areas to help create a better quality of life for citizens. “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
As soon as the HRA’s plans were made public – which included the potential of residential neighborhoods being subject to action – Brian said “No!” He didn’t want to wait and let citizens live in fear. At the public meeting, he saw the concern and listened to citizens’ fears. He took action in the form of a special called council meeting to STOP any movement that would threaten eminent domain in our city’s neighborhoods.
That’s what I want in an elected official, don’t you?
The other choice you have for Mayor is Jim Bethune. He was on council from 2010 to 2014. That was during the time that the “sweet deal” was made with Exit 1, LLC. The City of East Ridge, with Jim’s support, bought property from the state of Tennessee and turned around and sold it to the developers at no profit to the city. Another strip of land near Exit 1 that was donated to the city was sold to the developers for little or nothing … only a few thousand dollars.
In the original deal that Jim and the council approved, if the developers needed the property that fire hall No. 2 occupied, the developers would purchase land and rebuild the fire hall, at the developers’ expense. That agreement somehow went away and we not only took over the expense of the fire hall, but had to pay $600,000 in penalties to the State of Tennessee. Since the bond to build the original fire hall was not paid off, we are currently paying for the new fire hall AND the one we paid to tear down for the developers.
During his time on council, Jim Bethune also fought hard for you and I to pay lifetime insurance benefits for more than a dozen employees who were approaching retirement. Thank God, the rest of council wised up and the number of employees who were allowed to take advantage of the incredible perk was capped at two.
Jim carried on a prolonged, contemptuous interaction with a previous city manager that caused the CM to start tape recording all encounters with Mr. Bethune. Remember, our City Charter clearly states that elected officials are to deal with the CM and his duties in convened public meetings, not in the CM’s office one on one.
What a public embarrassment to our city.
Reflecting on Jim’s record as an elected official only solidifies my decision to vote Brian Williams for East Ridge Mayor … it’s the only responsible decision.
Vote! Vote responsibly!
Vote Brian Williams, Mayor!
_ Frances Pope