Editor’s Note: Three seats on the Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners as well as the mayor’s seat are on the Nov. 3 ballot. Last week we published responses from mayoral candidates James Maness and Dan Walker and from District 1 incumbent Ray Justice and challenger Vince King. Today, we publish the answers from District 3 incumbent Art Giles and challenger Scott Hefner and District 4 incumbent Jennifer Milele and challengers Jim Bradshaw and Gerard Bullock.

District 3Name: Art Giles

Age: Declined to answer

Occupation: Owner of AGA Insurance specializing in Church insurance.

Question 1 (200 words or less): What makes you the best candidate for the position?

I currently serve as the District 3 Commissioner and a Regional Planning Commissioner. I and have a passion for serving my community. I offer myself as “the Conservative Choice” in this election and have a voting record to support that claim. I received a Bachelor Of Business Administration from Belmont University with a Minor in Music prior to moving to Mt. Juliet. I and have used that degree knowledge, along with different career experience including local city government, to be proficient and accountable in my present District 3 Commission seat. I am proud of my voting record and accomplishments and feel experience is invaluable and necessary to continue to positively move forward in serving the citizens of Mt. Juliet. Money Magazine recently named Mt. Juliet in its list of the Top 50 Best Places to Live in the United States. Mt. Juliet was No. 22! Our commission leadership has worked hard to make Mt. Juliet a great place to live. I am glad I have had an opportunity to be a part of this recognition.

Question 2 (400 words or less): What do you see as the greatest challenge facing Mt. Juliet and how would you address it?

Increased Police Protection: I recently sponsored/passed a resolution for a 10 Year Police Department Strategic Plan to identify and adequately fund the needs of our members in blue, including salaries; now the PD is currently in the process of expanding Police Headquarters to adequately meet the city’s needs.

Increased Fire Protection: a new fire station is being built and recently we approved to hire nine additional firefighters to help command it.

Infrastructure improvements: we recently passed the revised/updated transportation plan which includes the master greenway plan, to addresses transportation needs.

Additional Park land needed: we are currently in the process of purchasing additional park land to meet our needs.

The challenge is to continue the above as needed and I believe development should pay for development. We already have great success with developments completing and/or sharing cost of additional infrastructure improvements and land donation, so we can continue to encourage and expect the same as well as explore other increased fees for new construction. I believe in small government, budgetary controls, and continuing to use sales tax revenues instead of raising property taxes; I never voted to raise property taxes.

Question 3 (200 words or less): What does Mt. Juliet city government do well?

Our city has a strong heritage of adopting responsible budgets, bringing in construction projects on time and under budget, and ending each year with a larger surplus than budgeted for. Our Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) is an advisory committee to the Board of Commissioners to supply pedestrian safety suggestions, promote awareness, and writes grant applications, along with Public Works Dept., to help fund additional sidewalks and greenways for the city. To date these grant awards have netted the city over $9.2 million in grant money since 2013. Affordable housing: Mt. Juliet has been nationally recognized by LendEDU as one of the fastest-growing U.S. cities that is still affordable. We are the No. 1 most efficiently run government in Tennessee, recognized by Beacon Center of Tennessee. MJ has one of the lowest property taxes at 16.64 cents. We are the 5th safest city in Tennessee with one of the first police departments to add police body cameras. Employment opportunities: Mt. Juliet has been named the 22nd best place to live in the United States in Money’s annual “Best Places to Live” ranking which is based on economic factors such as employment opportunities and the cost of living.

Question 4 (400 words or less): What does Mt. Juliet city government need to do better?

Stop voting for additional apartments in Mt. Juliet; there are enough to supply the need in my opinion. The majority of my constituents have always overwhelmingly expressed concern about apartments, and I have never voted for additional apartments, while serving as the District 3 Commissioner.

Name: Scott Hefner

Age: 52

Occupation: Business Consulting Services/Entrepreneur — Business Owner

Question 1 (200 words or less): What makes you the best candidate for the position?

I have over 30 years of experience providing consulting services to Fortune 500 companies, in addition to Federal, State, and Local governments. I specialized in Business Process Reengineering by deploying technology and applying industry “best-practices” that improve mission-critical business processes for top-tier organizations in these fields. I’ve held leadership positions throughout my career and recently served on the Senior Advisory Board for Finexio, a Business-to-Business electronic payments facilitator formed out of Silicon Valley, California, and held a position at a Washington, D.C. based non-profit alliance that served the technology, innovation, and collaboration needs of the U.S. healthcare industry.

For the last 11 years, I have assisted my neighbors by serving as Vice President/Treasurer of the Fairview Knoll Homeowner’s Association Board of Directors. Before moving to Mt. Juliet, I served in a nearly identical capacity for a 600-unit condominium in Florida.

I hold a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Troy University in Troy, Alabama, and previously held Series 7, 24, 63, and 65 licenses for financial services giant Morgan Stanley.

Question 2 (400 words or less): What do you see as the greatest challenge facing Mt. Juliet and how would you address it?

Complacency with some of the elected officials. Nov. 3 will hopefully resolve this issue.

Question 3 (200 words or less): What does Mt. Juliet city government do well?

The Mt. Juliet Police Department is what the city does well, along with the citizens themselves; you can’t find a better display of unity anywhere. The Mt. Juliet Police officers and the citizen of Mt. Juliet are woven together in the fabric that is this community, and it’s evident everywhere.

Question 4 (400 words or less): What does Mt. Juliet city government need to do better?

Listen to the citizens.

There is a disconnect between some of the elected officials and the citizens of Mt. Juliet. I frequently hear District 3 residents’ stories that many of their attempts to interact or exchange in dialog with the current commissioner lack responsiveness — citizen emails and voicemails that never, or rarely, receive responses. Often, the citizens I have spoken with are unaware of who their commissioner is, frequently responding with the name of a city employees or the name of other District Commissioners.

Here is a perfect example of a post I recently received by a past citizen.

“I wish I stilled lived in my home, I am in your district. I tried and tried to get someone in our district that cared about us, had no luck. That’s a great place to live, hope and pray you will get elected, we need new people not the good old boys. I lived there 26 years I never had a commissioner come by or I knew who he was. Good luck, as I talk to my old neighbors, I will tell about you.” — ex-Mt. Juliet District 3 Resident.

This will be the first issue resolved if elected on Nov. 3. People will be heard, and through my efforts, will be represented to the fullest extent of my abilities.

The city government should be an asset to your family, business, and life. When city leaders are out of touch, or never in touch, with the people’s values and needs, it results in missed opportunities, ineffective government, and frustrated citizens.

District 4Name: Jim Bradshaw

Age: Declined to answer

Occupation: Substitute Teacher

Question 1 (200 words or less): What makes you the best candidate for the position?

I have served as Mt. Juliet City Commissioner for 17 years and 9 months. I also served as Wilson County Commissioner for 4 years. I have dedicated 32+ years as a volunteer for non-profit organizations. I have strong leadership abilities. Being from Wilson County and plans to retire here gives me added incentive to see that our government functions exceptional. I am very conservative and proud to say we had a positive budget every year. Being on the City Commission requires a lot of homework. I have the time and desire to study upcoming projects so I can make the best decision for our community.

Question 2 (400 words or less): What do you see as the greatest challenge facing Mt. Juliet and how would you address it?

The greatest challenge as a fast growing city is balancing the infrastructure with the growth. We want more first rate businesses and job choices. As we grow in population at a fast rate, we must be able to provide the services as a city that goes along with this. Providing police and fire protection to everyone is a necessity and our road infrastructure is an area we must address. The commission is going to need and require new businesses, industries and home developments to help and step up more. We do not want these developments to be a burden on our citizens, i.e. property tax increases. I will not vote for any city property tax increase.

Question 3 (200 words or less): What does Mt. Juliet city government do well?

Showing pride in our community. Mt. Juliet does a good job in the safety and protection of our citizens and properties. Working with a low city property tax rate and the major portion of revenue is from sales tax, it is important we use our funds wisely in the future.

Question 4 (400 words or less): What does Mt. Juliet city government need to do better?

Work for a better overview of our infrastructure, new residential construction, i.e. more single family homes instead of multi-family units and require new development in the Providence/Belinda City area to take care of road projects in our already situation of traffic woes. Traffic is a current major problem and adding more development without new road infrastructure is definitely not helping.

Name: Gerard Bullock

Age: 42

Occupation: Realtor/Sales Manager — Weichert Realtors, The Andrews Group

Question 1 (200 words or less): What makes you the best candidate for the position?

I am the best candidate as I will bring a much needed fresh perspective to the Board of Commissioners. I worked for 14 years as a Director at UPS as well as 7 as the Director of North American wholesale operations for Under Armour. In those roles, I was tasked with growing the infrastructure in a growing company which directly translates to our growing city that is in constant need of infrastructure improvements. Most importantly I managed over 1,500 employees and the most important thing in any operation is to listen to the people. I am here to listen to the people and negotiate on their behalf. My experience sitting as a member of the Board of Directors for a few organizations sets me apart. I do well at influencing others on the boards that I serve to get projects and initiatives completed. I would do the same on the Board of Commissioners.

Question 2 (400 words or less): What do you see as the greatest challenge facing Mt. Juliet and how would you address it?

The greatest challenge facing Mt. Juliet is negotiating the best road infrastructure improvements when new developments come to the city. As a professional negotiator, I would place an emphasis on what would best serve the city whenever any developer proposes a project in our city. I also feel that District 4 has contributed a great deal of growth and infrastructure to the city. We need to be cautious especially on that side of the city that we do not create more bottlenecks and congestion. Years ago, the city would try to recruit wanted developments to the city. Now that we are one of the top cities in the Nation, we now have the leverage to pick and choose what projects are best for the city and what are the best improvements we can get from the project to benefit the city.

Question 3 (200 words or less): What does Mt. Juliet city government do well?

The MJ Government does a good job with the support of the City emergency services. We have a low crime rate as well as great response times from our FD and emergency services. I feel that a strong emphasis has been placed on these two items in particular by city officials and department heads.

Question 4 (400 words or less): What does Mt. Juliet city government need to do better?

I believe that the MJ government needs to review many outdated ordinances and procedures that may be hindering the small business community. As the husband of a small business owner, I know first hand how difficult it could be to get a small business up in running in the city. I also noticed that many projects are granted building variances based off of outdated ordinances. If multiple projects constantly are granted the same variance, it’s time to review the ordinance. When the exception becomes the rule, it is time to change the rule. Many processes we had in place when we were a 10,000 person city are still in place now that there are over 37,000 people in the city.

Name: Jennifer Milele

Age: Declined to answer

Occupation: MJ City Commissioner of District 4. In addition, I have nine years of business management experience in the book publishing industry and a family-owned business. I also own and operate my own graphic design business.

Question 1 (200 words or less): What makes you the best candidate for the position?

I am the “political outsider” serving as Mt. Juliet City Commissioner for District 4. No other candidate has my experience or detailed knowledge of current issues. I have been a resident for 36 years and raised my two sons here in Wilson County schools, one of which currently serves in our military. My passion to help people is what makes me a “citizen advocate” because I know the importance of having a voice at the table and we must keep it. Between my monthly newsletters and social media platform, I stay connected with residents, keeping them informed about our district and city.

My vision, reflected in my voting record, is for long term traffic relief south of I-40. I have witnessed the growth explosion and it is very important that we continue finding solutions and moving forward together with this goal in mind. District 4 is where most of the new development is, therefore it is my goal to preserve green space for parkland south of I-40, with limitless opportunities from toddlers to seniors. This seat is not a job, it’s a position of public service and trust. I have a heart to serve as a political outsider.

Question 2 (400 words or less): What do you see as the greatest challenge facing Mt. Juliet and how would you address it?

The greatest challenge to Mt. Juliet is a push toward irresponsible tax and spend policies. I believe in positive changes with limited government and low taxes, that moves the city forward, not backward. Anything else would be detrimental to the future of the city, so voting for ideas of change for the sake of change without doing detailed research to identify cost within our budget confines is a dangerous direction.

The city of Mt. Juliet is fiscally conservative, well managed and well budgeted. There is a push to eliminate budget amendments and give more money to each department. Government budgets are not run like private sector budgets, therefore, it is not possible to eliminate budget amendments. If you increase all the department budgets with our surplus each year, the money would end up being spent, always creating the need for more funding, which ultimately would result in higher taxes, not to mention deplete the surplus.

There’s a reason people move here; a sense of community, great schools, quality homes, low taxes, limited government, law and order, safety, a place you can exercise your faith, and raise your children. Mt. Juliet still has that small town feel and I believe it is important to preserve that as we continue to grow. Keeping our traditions and “core principles” that have made Mt. Juliet a desirable place to live, is extremely important to me and I will fight to keep them. Our core principles are displayed in the city seal. We must not allow that solid foundation to be chipped away. I love Mt. Juliet, I support it and what it stands for, and I am proud to call it home.

I proudly serve as Mt. Juliet’s District 4 City Commissioner as a political outsider with no bias or personal agenda, which frees me up to fairly represent everyone equally without influence or persuasion. I do not own any property, except the small piece my house sits on, and I do not work in a profession that would be called into question to be a conflict of interest on any vote facing me at the table.

Question 3 (200 words or less): What does Mt. Juliet city government do well?

As the City Commissioner of District 4, I am proud to be a part of Mt. Juliet which is widely recognized as being successful. Our city has had several impressive recognitions, three of which awarded recently: Rated 22nd out of 50 as the best place to live in the nation by Money.com; nationally recognized as one of the fastest-growing affordable cities by Lendedu.com; and the best city for millennials to relocate by Zippia. Mt. Juliet promotes diversity in business and in our live/work/play community. The Board of Commissioners recently approved to waive residential building permit fees for those impacted by the tornado who are stilling in the process of rebuilding.

Mt. Juliet is a safe city thanks to Mt. Juliet Police Department. I am proud to have supported the License Plate Readers which alerts to stolen vehicles to criminal activity. Our Mt. Juliet Fire Department is awesome. As District 4 City Commissioner, I supported and enjoyed the ribbon cutting for a third fire station, located off Lebanon Road. We recently approved hiring a Deputy Fire Chief and nine new firefighters.

Our city staff under the leadership of Kenny Martin, all work very hard to make sure Mt. Juliet is well represented.

Question 4 (400 words or less): What does Mt. Juliet city government need to do better?

Proactive, experienced Commissioner leadership is vital when it comes to considering new developments. As District 4 City Commissioner of Mt. Juliet, I learn from past and pending issues, such as storm water problems coming from previously approved developments, and implement measures on the front end of future projects. I addressed these with the two new projects in our district (Cawthon Farms and Providence Central) while in the approval process, working with Planning, Public Works, as well as the developers and engineers.

In addition, within District 4, there have been so many burdensome issues stemming from burning on construction sites with repeated warnings, that has caused an overabundance of white ash and black oily residue into the nearby neighborhoods, leaving residents with the cleanup. I understand the need to burn vegetation because it is cost effective, but not at the expense of residents. There comes a point when it’s time to put measures in place and protect our citizens.

Again, it is my hope and desire to work with the Parks Department and committee volunteers to secure and preserve green space and parkland south of I-40. My poll shows overwhelming support for amenities in the form of a community/recreation center for all ages, including nature/walking trails.

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