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Kaplan resigns from Rutherford County Commission

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Kaplan at a Rutherford County Commission meeting. JOHN BUTWELL

First-term Rutherford County Commissioner Shawn Kaplan resigned his post Thursday night, saying he inadvertently moved out of District 19 after selling his Riverbend house recently.

"I just said ... there's a simple solution to this. I made a mistake. I should have done more due diligence. I should not have taken the maps I looked at at face value. I don't have intentions of moving my family again, so therefore it's best that I resign. Make it clean and easy and accept the responsibility," said Kaplan, who works in sales for a Brentwood mortgage firm.

The Rutherford County Commission's Steering & Legislative Affairs Committee will take applications to fill the District 19 seat representing northwest Murfreesboro and will make recommendations to the full commission. The seat is up for election in August 2018.

Kaplan said he and his wife, Jennifer, decided to sell their home, in part, because their 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with ataxia, a mild form of cerebral palsy, and was unable to climb the stairs at their three-story home, which had about 4,500 square feet.

They also had purchased a tract in Nolensville in early 2016 as an investment and were considering building a house there but had not set a timeline, he said.

Kaplan said he considered three options: selling and buying a house in his district so he could retain his district and finish the term; building on the Nolensville land and possibly having to resign if it was finished before his term was up; moving into an apartment and building in Nolensville or buying another house in Murfreesboro.

Ultimately, he and his wife opted to rent an apartment and considered Henley Station near The Avenue. But it has three-story units, which would be difficult for this daughter to handle, so they decided to move into Everwood at The Avenue.

Kaplan said he and his wife looked at maps to make sure Everwood was in District 19 but apparently didn't check the right maps. It turned out the apartment is about 100 to 150 yards outside District 19, he said.

Rutherford County Administrator of Elections Alan Farley said he returned a call from Kaplan about changing his address and left a message with Kaplan early last week notifying him he needed to update his voter registration after moving. Farley said he was operating under the assumption Kaplan was still in the district and didn't know the address until the next day.

Kaplan said he received the information from Farley and filled out a new voter registration card and sent it in, along with contacting the county's Office of Information Technology to put his new address on the county website. The next morning he read a report saying he sold his house and didn't live in the 19th District.

Farley confirmed that state law would allow Kaplan to live outside his district temporarily if he intended to move back into District 19. Farley said it would be "speculation" to determine Kaplan moved into the apartment outside his district with plans to build a house in Williamson County.

Kaplan said he put a great deal of thought and prayer into the matter over the last few days and decided he could not tell someone he intended to cancel his lease and move into an apartment or house in District 19 before his term was up.

"I can't honestly and ethically look at somebody and say, 'Yes, I have plans to do that. I'm not moving my family again,'" he said.

Kaplan said it's "irresponsible and incorrect" to surmise he was trying to skirt the rules and live in an apartment outside the district while building a house in Nolensville.

"We solely only, 100 percent, moved into that apartment just so I could finish out my term and not have to quit and resign," he said.

This story has been updated.

Kaplan noted he didn't want to prolong the issue and opted to resign before the County Commission. Kaplan also acknowledged he had missed several county meetings over the last couple of years because of work and mission-related trips but had sacrificed many family activities, as well, to attend government meetings.

"It's really, really unfortunate, but I have peace on it because all those doors opened for me to be there. And it's very clear one after another the doors closed and the final one closing was I made a mistake and moved out of the district. So that's very clear to me I need to do the right thing and step to the side," he said.

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