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Elam wins big
Nov 03, 2004 12:00 am
By a near two-to-one margin, Mt. Juliet voters picked District 2 City Commissioner and Vice Mayor Linda Elam for the city's mayoral post, a position she said she was "thrilled" to accept.
With all West Wilson County precincts reporting, Elam garnered 3,522 votes, easily surpassing former city commissioner Frank Henderson, who finished second with 1,832 votes.
"I'm just thrilled and honored, and I thank the citizens for the faith they've place in me," Elam said. "I promise to work hard and make them proud."
One of Elam's first duties in office will involve overseeing the appointment of her successor as District 2 representative. She explained she had preliminary discussions about the process with Mt. Juliet City Manager Robert Shearer, adding the entire City Commission would play a role in appointing a new commissioner for the second district.
Elam credited her public and professional experience with giving her the edge needed to secure the victory. An attorney and chairperson of the Mt. Juliet City Planning Commission, Elam said she was prepared to help manage the city's ongoing growth wave.
"I think the citizens did recognize the truth of the theme I've been on, which is that we are growing so rapidly, we have got to have someone as mayor who can talk the talk and understand the issues without a large learning curve," Elam said. "And because this tracks a lot of what I do professionally, I think they understood that I'm that person and that I can proceed on without missing a step for the city."
Henderson, who served on the city commission from 1987 through 1997, said he was proud of the race he ran and the issues his campaign brought to light.
He added, however, the mayoral bid marked his final foray into city politics.
"I entered the race to give people a choice and, apparently, they chose. I accept that. There are no hard feelings," Henderson said. "I feel like I ran a good race. I called attention to a lot of issues. I was pleased with what I did."
Election returns Tuesday placed District 4 City Commissioner Jim Bradshaw in third place with 1,719 votes. Young newcomer Mitchell Queener finished last, claiming 450 votes.
In District 1, the only contested City Commission seat, incumbent Commissioner Ray Justice was re-elected to his post, finishing with 672 votes. Challengers Theresa Harmon and Jarod Scott split the remainder of the vote, garnering 547 and 504 votes, respectively.
Noting the District 1 race was "very hard fought," Justice said he was grateful for the support his campaign received.
"I'm looking forward to four more years of progress and four more years of making our city better," Justice said. " … I'm ecstatic that it's over."
Justice added he was impressed with the ideas Scott brought to the race, including city beautification projects, and noted he would look forward to working with his former challenger over the next four years.
"I really want to congratulate Jarod Scott – a fine young man and a credit to his mother and father. I think the young man's got some great ideas, and I look forward to working with him in the future," Justice said.
Meanwhile, in the race for the Wilson County Commission's second district seat, Mt. Juliet businessman Ken Holland outpaced his opponent Dorinda Wolentarski by a vote of 1256 to 517.
Holland, who was appointed to the District 2 post following the departure of former District 2 Commissioner Jeff Brown, noted Tuesday's was his first race and a valuable experience.
"This was my first go around, and it's exciting. I look forward to serving the folks here in District 2," Holland said, adding his immediate plans include "getting a firm handle" on the cost of the county school system's building needs.
"I think we need to move forward with the schools and focus the other infrastructure needs that we need to take care of," Holland said.
Staff Writer Brian Harville can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 16 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.