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Election 2012: Murfreesboro City Council

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Voters in Murfreesboro are charged with selecting three members of the City Council and two members of the City School Board on Tuesday, April 17.

Early voting for the city municipal election is currently underway and will conclude April 12.

Here, The Post focuses on the City Council race.

The Post will profile School Board candidates in Thursday’s edition.

Murfreesboro City Councilmen are elected at-large, meaning the top three vote-getters will take a seat in city hall. This year voters select from eight candidates – incumbents Chris Bratcher, Toby Gilley and Ron Washington, and challengers Danny Brandon, Bill Jakes, Connor Moss, Eddie Smotherman and Ricky Turner.

The Post asked each candidate the same questions:

1. Why do you want to be on the Murfreesboro City Council?

2. What is the most important problem or issue facing the city?

3. How would you solve problem or issue?

Danny Brandon

Q1: Murfreesboro is a great city in which I chose to live. It did not choose me. I would like to see it remain a wonderful city. I want to be part of the solution and address some of our upcoming challenges.

Q2: The city’s biggest problem is $396 million in long-term debt. In 2004, our debt was $178 million and it has grown $2 million per month for the last eight years.

Q3: I will prioritize spending by separating needs from wants. Once we have determined our true needs, we must take care of those and then go to our want list and prioritize them.

Chris Bratcher

Q1: I am running because I love Murfreesboro. When people ask me “what makes Murfreesboro so special?” I say,  besides the best schools in the state, low crime rate, the best Fire and Rescue Department with the lowest ISO rating in Tennessee, the best Parks and Recreation Department in the South, a great hospital and medical services, great shopping, great places to work and low unemployment, and the fact we haven’t had a tax increase since the 1990s well besides all that we have the nicest people in the South.Murfreesboro is the envy of all the cities in Tennessee. We are the best!

Q2: The most important issue, I believe, is the reduction of state-shared funding.

Q3: As money dwindles from the state we will have to provide more and more services with less money. We will have to continue to be efficient. We are in great shape financially. Murfreesboro has a better credit rating than Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga. We are on schedule to pay off 92 percent of all our debt in 10 years. We are one of the best managed cities in the nation.

Toby Gilley

Q1: During my time on the council, Murfreesboro has been fortunate to experience growth in opportunities while still maintaining a high level of fiscal responsibility. There is a great deal more to be achieved for our city, and I want to continue to be a part of that.

Q2: The need for road improvement projects such as a firefighter training center and updated emergency communications equipment for all first responders.

Q3:I believe what we will see in the coming months is an update to the city’s capital outlay project, and I will aggressively pursue those needs in that process. The key to that is to do so without a tax increase and keeping our city on track to aggressively pay off city debt, which is currently on schedule to have 92 percent of debt paid off within a decade.

Bill Jakes

Q1: I would like the opportunity to serve our town and its people. I believe I am a fair and unbiased thinker and I thrive as a problem solver.

Q2: Solving infrastructure issues that will continue to grow along with Murfreesboro’s population explosion.

Q3: I intend to promote businesses that will bring a better quality of life to Murfreesboro while also contributing to our tax revenue stream. I want to especially reach out to small businesses because more of their revenue stays local and has a greater long-term effect in our tax system. One dollar spent in a national big box retailer essentially leaves our city, but that same dollar spent at a local small business largely stays here and further builds our city’s economy.

Conner Moss

Q1: I believe that its time for the city council to have fresh faces and new ideas and institute term limits. We must be able to balance our budget more effectively and find a better form of representation through a mixture of city council member districts and at-large seats rather than a completely at-large council.

Q2: Growth is the most pressing issue. We must find a healthy balance between growth and maintaining our existing infrastructure.

Q3: By limiting the amount of annexation by the city council and continuing to update our streets, sewer and power grid.

Eddie Smotherman

Q1: I care about the city of Murfreesboro and have Murfreesboro’s interest at heart. I have lived in Murfreesboro my entire life, and I think Murfreesboro needs a firm leader in difficult economic times. I’m a small business owner who understands the importance of balancing a budget, and Murfreesboro’s $396 million debt must be brought under control.

Q2:  Creating an environment in which jobs can develop. Murfreesboro must experience economic growth in order to support the growing population, and we have to have leaders with vision in order to attract higher paying jobs.

Q3: We have to stimulate the real estate market by giving local citizens the opportunities to purchase homes with a two-year waiver on property taxes, we have to loosen the stranglehold that government is placing on small business, and we have to find ways to get more money in taxpayers’ pockets.

Ricky Turner

Q1: To bring some new ideas in city government such as term limits, district representation and improving relationships with Murfreesboro’s small business owners.

Q2: Growth and paying for the cost of growth.

Q3: Infrastructure, police and fire protection are our priorities, and others need to be put on hold or raise the revenue to pay for them. We need a balanced, forward-thinking plan for future growth, which is based on 10 to 15 years down the road rather than simply three to five.

Ron Washington

Q1: Because experience matters. The council has a proven track record of managing the policies of the city. We have served at the local, state and national level. Experience is needed to face the challenges of the future.

Q2: Meeting financial challenges of needed capital outlay projects such as a new police headquarters, firefighter training center, ballparks on the west side and even unforseen projects.

Q3: I will use my experience to lead our city through difficult economic times, just as we have led the city through hard economic times in the past. When I became councilman in 1998, the (property) tax rate was $1.96 and it is $1.27 today. I will continue to be a part of keeping our taxes low while providing citizens a great quality of life.
Read more from:
Bill Jakes, Chris Bratcher, City Council, Connor Moss, Danny Brandon, Democrats, Eddie Smotherman, Elections, GOP, Murfreesboro, Politics, Ricky Turner, Ron Washington, Rutherford County, Toby Gilley
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Members Opinions:
April 08, 2012 at 8:32am
One big issue that is being kept under wraps until after the election is the huge debt of the Water & Sewer Dept. that was fueled by growth. When the new constuction tanked the cash from conection fees that was to finance reserves and debt coverage went down also. The present Council added to the problem by diverting over $300,000 of the remaining connection fee income to the pockets of builders & developers to "stimulate" the building industry. It didn't work and now the ratepayers will have to make it up in the form of higher water & sewer bills. The increase is proposed to be 15% spread over the next five years. Toby Gilley supported this (bail out) as a member of the W&S Board and as a Councilman. All of the Council voted for this ill thought out use of public funds. I wonder who is keeping this hushed up until after the election?
April 11, 2012 at 8:41am
Although the question of party affiliation has never been asked directly. Gilley and Bratcher have managed to get the fact that they are republicans into interviews in the DNJ. Given that Murfreesboro is heavily Republican and Council candidates are not listed by party affiliation on the ballot, this seems to be either a shrewd or a devious way to get a few votes. I haven't noticed any of the challengers interviews containing the same information. How did the endorsement of the local Republican Party Chair get into the Bratcher interview? Something be funny here.
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