Tommy Bragg. File Photo
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Tommy Bragg announced Wednesday he will not seek a fourth term as mayor of the city of Murfreesboro.
The three-time elected mayor has served 12 years at the helm of the government for Murfreesboro, one of Tennessee’s most-progressive cities in terms of job growth, economic development and education.
“Enough is enough,” Mayor Bragg confirmed in an interview Tuesday morning. “I set out, when first running for mayor, to help with economic development, foster our community’s relationship and growth with Middle Tennessee State University, help strengthen Murfreesboro City Schools, generate new good-paying jobs and we’ve done that.
“I will announce my decision on the Murfreesboro Cable TV Channel during Thursday night’s regular city council meeting.”
Bragg, 66, comes from a family with multi-centuries of public service impact not only for Murfreesboro, but regionally including Cannon and Rutherford counties, and statewide in the state legislature and Tennessee National Guard.
Murfreesboro native John Hood’s relationship with the Bragg family goes back to his childhood when he first delivered newspapers for Minor Bragg, the mayor’s grandfather who published Woodbury’s Cannon Courier and Rutherford Courier newspapers in Murfreesboro back in the 1940-50 era.
“Going back to when I delivered and sold newspapers for publisher Minor Bragg, I’ve had a rich relationship with the Bragg family,” noted Hood, who followed John Bragg, the mayor’s father, as a state representative in the Tennessee Legislature. “I followed John Bragg in the legislature, where he served 30 years and was one of the most influential, progressive state lawmakers in the history of Middle Tennessee. This type of leadership has helped make our community become one of the most progressive and livable in the Southeast.”
Hood served as state representative from 1996-2008.
“Tommy Bragg has carried on that family’s great tradition of public service, giving of himself and his family,” noted Hood, who currently serves as director of government and community affairs at MTSU. “As mayor, in following his father’s steps in support of education, Tommy has enhanced the relationship between Murfreesboro, MTSU and City Schools. He has served the citizens of Murfreesboro well. I understand he and wife Jeanne desire to spend more time with family, especially their grandchildren, and do some travels together.”
In the past 48 years, there have been four mayors of Murfreesboro, starting with Mayor Hollis Westbrooks in 1966, followed by Joe B. Jackson, Richard Reeves and Bragg.
“As a city, we’ve been blessed to have solid leadership for the past several decades,” noted former Murfreesboro City Manager Roger Haley. “Mayor Bragg followed in those great mayors’ tradition of serving, and working peaceably on behalf of the citizens that have made Murfreesboro one of the premier progressive cities in the Midsouth.”
“Mayor Bragg, like his predecessors, has the gift of being steady and pulling people together for the common community good,” added Haley, who served as city manager for 22 years until his retirement in 2008. “It’s obvious Tommy displayed the talents and dedication to community that his father, mother, and grandparents encouraged down through the generations.
“He’s like Joe B. Jackson in many ways, displaying a steady hand at the helm of our city government,” Haley added. “Tommy is a very organized man, with the ability to listen and bring people and ideas together for the community betterment. Not only will the citizens miss Tommy, the city employees will miss him too.”
Haley was asked about “the future” of Murfreesboro.
“Murfreesboro is fortunate to have had leaders like Bragg, Reeves, Jackson and Westbrooks,” Haley shared. “But the future leadership looks bright too. For example, Vice Mayor Ron Washington has served well on the city council for the past three decades. If he decides to seek the mayor’s post, it would be another great step to our city’s excellent-positioned future.”
If Vice Mayor Washington, who is in management at Middle Tennessee Electric Cooperative, runs and is successfully elected, he would be the first black citizen to hold the mayor’s post. Repeated attempts to get comments from Washington were unsuccessful.
Two-term Councilman Shane McFarland confirmed he’s formed a political team, and will seek the mayor’s office at age 39.
“I will run,” noted construction business owner McFarland. “Mayor Bragg has been a great leader and ambassador for Murfreesboro. We’re charging full-steam ahead to continue that progress.”
Since McFarland is at the end of his second term, he cannot hold onto his councilman’s slot while running for mayor. Since Washington is in mid-term of his tenure on the council, he could continue serving on the council while running for mayor.
Kent Syler, who served as Tennessee chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, often worked on projects with Mayor Bragg and Murfreesboro city government.
“Mayor Bragg often said he wanted to make Murfreesboro the most livable, business-friendly and service-oriented city in Tennessee,” noted Syler, a political science professor at MTSU. “During his time in office, Murfreesboro’s growth has increased nearly 60 percent. Mayor Bragg has provided, steady forward-thinking leadership that’s helped Murfreesboro deal with rapid growth.”
Smyrna Town Manager Mark O’Neal also praised Bragg’s service as mayor in neighboring Murfreesboro.
“It’s been a great honor to work with Mayor Bragg on many projects,” O’Neal noted. “And Mayor Bragg has been cooperative in also helping our town on shared projects and interests. He comes from a long line of public servants named Bragg.”
Some political positioning has already started in anticipation of Mayor Bragg’s confirmation tonight that he will not seek re-election.
Thirteen-year veteran Councilman Toby Gilley, a lawyer, praised Bragg’s tenure. He will not seek the mayor’s slot.
“Tommy has done an outstanding job for Murfreesboro, and has represented out city well throughout the state and Southeast,” Gilley noted. “I will not seek the mayor’s post since I recently announced my intention to run for General Sessions’ Judge,” an office currently held by Murfreesboro attorney Larry Brandon. “I’m standing by my commitment to seek the judgeship.’
Longtime Murfreesboro political activist Jonathan Fagan has said publicly he is considering a run for a possible vacated councilman’s slot if one occurs by a present councilman who runs for the open mayor’s post.