Mayor Ernest Burgess and Republican primary challenger Jimmy Evans haven’t squared off in any public debates, but they’ve been doing plenty of sparring through the mail.
As Election Day arrives Tuesday, both are accusing the other of making low blows as part of their campaign tactics.
Burgess, a former NHC executive seeking a third four-year term, calls Evans’ campaign tactics “disappointing,” while Evans, owner of Evans Auto Exchange, accuses the mayor of trying to deceive voters about his votes while on the county commission.
The mayor sent out a flier showing a man with his fingers crossed behind the back and asking, “What is Jimmy Evans trying to hide from us?”
It points out that Evans voted to double the development tax to $1,500 during his term and supported a $20 increase in the county wheel tax.
Although Evans accused the mayor of hitting below the belt, he doesn’t sidestep the fact that he voted to raise the development tax and the wheel tax. “Absolutely,” he says. “I never said I didn’t.”
The former chairman of the Rutherford County Republican Party says the $1,500 development tax is really an impact fee that helps pay for the cost of new schools, roads and other infrastructure, but is really only “a drop in the bucket” to offset those costs. He points out that the wheel tax affects everyone who drives a motor vehicle, instead of targeting those who own property as the property tax does.
Asked about the flier, Burgess says only, “When we serve, we have a record, and the public has a right to know what our record is, if we’ve done anything.”
Evans acknowledged sending out a “whimsical” flier asking voters “What’s that giant sucking sound” coming from the County Courthouse, in reference to tax increases approved during Burgess’ administration.
But he accused the mayor of conducting a “push poll” before any mailers surfaced, with one of the questions asking voters how they would feel about Evans if they knew he received an F on his Better Business Bureau rating. Evans calls that a “flat-out lie” and says he received an A-plus, A and B-plus from the BBB.
Burgess refused to term the survey a “push poll,” but did say, “Any person that’s serious about running a campaign will try to gather information to determine what our citizens think is important.” He contended that Evans’ supporters conducted their own polls prior to his.
In the midst of the mud-slinging, Evans sent out a mailer with Arabic writing, saying Rutherford County residents should thank Ernest Burgess for allowing the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro to be built.
“Without you the mosque would not be possible,” it states.
“I’m not a bigot, but all of the information needed to be shown about Mr. Burgess and his record,” Evans says.
He contends Burgess mishandled the ICM’s request for a mosque construction project four years ago by failing to provide proper notice, holding secret meetings and lying about his familiarity with an ICM official while testifying.
Approval of the mosque at the planning commission level led to a protracted lawsuit and trial before Chancellor Robert Corlew, who ruled the county failed to provide adequate public notice. A federal judge overruled the chancellor and the mosque was issued an occupation permit by the county shortly afterward.
The case remains in litigation, Burgess says, when asked about the matter, but he hopes it will be wrapped up soon so the county can move on to other matters.
After more than two weeks of early voting, registered voters can cast ballots at precincts across the county. Candidates are:
• Circuit Court Judge – 16th Judicial District – Division I
Jeff Peach, Oak Hill Drive in Smyrna
• Circuit Court Judge – 16th Judicial District – Division II
Nathan Nichols, Manson Pike in Murfreesboro
• Circuit Court Judge – 16th Judicial District – Division III
Keith Siskin, Foundry Circle in Murfreesboro
• Chancellor – 16th Judicial District
Howard Wilson, Browns Mill Road, Lascassas
• District Attorney General, 16th Judicial District
Jennings H. Jones, Red Oak Trail in Murfreesboro
Charles G. Ward, Quail Chase Cove, Murfreesboro
• Public Defender, 16th Judicial District
Andy Brunelle, Gary Bowman Court, Murfreesboro
Gerald L. Melton, Half Acre Road, Smithville
• County Mayor
Ernest Burgess, Franklin Road, Murfreesboro
Jimmy Evans, North Rutherford Boulevard, Murfreesboro
• County Commission, District 1
Doug Shafer, Morningside Drive, La Vergne
• County Commission, District 2
Jack Black, East Jefferson Pike, Lascassas
Steve Pearcy, East Jefferson Pike, Lascassas
• County Commission, District 3
Will Jordan, Shacklett Road, Murfreesboro
• County Commission, District 4
Jon Jaques, East Compton Road, Murfreesboro
• County Commission, District 5
Carol Cook, Bain Drive, La Vergne
• County Commission, District 6
Matt Harvey, Stevens Bend Drive, Murfreesboro
Joe Frank Jernigan, Murray Kittrell Road, Readyville
• County Commission, District 7
Phil A. Griffin, Elaina Lane, Murfreesboro
Michael D. Kusch, New Salem Highway, Murfreesboro
Moncrief Williams, Southridge Boulevard, Murfreesboro
• County Commission, District 8
Edward Phillips, East McGuire Street, Bell Buckle
• County Commission, District 9
Jason B. Bour, Suffield Drive, Smyrna
Joe A. Gourley, Morton Lane, Smyrna
• County Commission, District 10
Tony Campbell, Rock Springs Road, Smyrna
Brad Turner, Sam Davis Road, Smyrna
• County Commission, District 11
Rhonda Allen, Hazelwood Drive, Smyrna
M. Preston Sparks, Short Court, Smyrna
• County Commission, District 12
Robert Stevens, Laural Hill Drive, Smyrna
• County Commission, District 13
Paul Johnson, Woodline Circle, Murfreesboro
• County Commission, District 14
Charles Baum, Cherry Blossom Lane, Murfreesboro
• County Commission, District 15
David Nipper, Howell Drive, Murfreesboro
Joanne Skidmore, Alexander Drive, Murfreesboro
• County Commission, District 16
Phillip Sugg Dodd, Cherry Lane, Murfreesboro
Matthew Douglas Young, North Spring Street
• County Commission, District 17
Jeff Phillips, Greenland Drive, Murfreesboro
Matthew S. Roe, Lascassas Pike, Murfreesboro
• County Commission, District 18
Allen McAdoo, P.O. Box 3132
• County Commission, District 19
Shawn Kaplan, Shannon Drive, Murfreesboro
• County Commission, District 20
Trey Gooch, Manson Pike, Murfreesboro
• County Commission, District 21
Patsy Briley, South Baird Lane, Murfreesboro
Teb Batey, Halls Hill Pike, Milton
• General Sessions Judge, Part I
Aaron Conklin, Long Shadow Court, Murfreesboro
Kevin Hodges, Rooker Road, Smyrna
• General Sessions Judge, Part II
Thomas D. “Tom” Frost, North Thompson Lane, Murfreesboro
Eric Hennessee, Cliffside Drive, Christiana
Barry Tidwell, Lunar Drive, Murfreesboro
• General Sessions Judge, Part III
Toby Gilley, Big Eagle Trail, Mufreesboro
• Juvenile Court Judge
Donna Scott Davenport, Farmhouse Road, Lascassas
Robert Arnold, Osborne Lane, Murfreesboro
Bob Asbury, Creekwalk Drive, Murfreesboro
• Circuit Court Clerk
Laura Bohling, Mallow Drive, Christiana
Melissa Harrell, Baskinbrook Court, Murfreesboro
Lance Jenkins, Stratford Road, Murfreesboro
• County Clerk
Lisa Duke Crowell, Wilton Court, Murfreesboro
• Register of Deeds
Rusty Dallas, Red Mile Road, Murfreesboro
Heather Dawbarn, Mac Arthur Avenue, Murfreesboro
Steve Sandlin, Valley Bend Road, Murfreesboro