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Mayor Ash talks first 100 days

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It's been over 100 days since Bernie Ash stepped up to serve as Mayor of the City of Lebanon.

During a Lunch and Learn presented by Lebanon Wilson Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Ash discussed some of his biggest challenges since taking office - and what he's learned along the way.

Ash has participated in Wilson County politics since 1994. He began the presentation by offering some background on his nine political campaigns.

"I have a lot of interests. Sports is not one of them. It makes it difficult to communicate with (Watertown Mayor and University of Tennessee Football fan) Mike Jennings," Ash joked. "But politics I love. The one thing I really enjoy is the people involved in it. There are some characters - and I'm going to include myself in that."

Next Ash recited a quote from his favorite United States President, Ronald Regan. "Politics is the second oldest profession, but I bears a strong resemblance to the first," he said, getting laughs from the audience.

Ash said that in his nine campaigns, he's won six, including District 23 County Commissioner and Ward 4 Lebanon City Councilor, and lost three. The losses taught him the most.

His first loss was to former Wilson County Mayor Robert Dedman. "We had debates all over the county. I had all of these numbers and charts. Then Robert Dedman would get up there and said, 'My door is always open. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' He beat me by 5,000 votes. When you get beat by 5,000 (the people) did not want me in there," he explained, again laughing at his trials.

The second loss was to Joe Hayes (former City Council Member) Joe Hayes, who bested Ash by 54 votes.

The last loss was to now-District 23 County Commissioner Sue Vanatta.

"I thought that since I had held this seat for 16 years I didn't have a lot to worry about. Boy, that was a fatal mistake," he said. "Someone told me, 'These elections are like a beauty contest.' I thought, I'm in big trouble!"

Vanatta ran a "very honest" campaign and Ash commended her on doing a good job for District 23.

"I probably need to hug her neck," he said. The loss led to his next victory - Mayor of Lebanon.

The main issue the city is dealing with is growth, according to Ash, who revealed that Middle Tennessee is one of the hottest growing areas in the nation.

"Nashville property is skyrocketing. A lot of people are moving from Nashville to the east," he said. A census report showed that 6,000 people moved her from 2010-2015.

"My thought is to not panic and plan for the growth. We don't want anything and everything that wants to come to Lebanon. We are in a position where we get to be particular.

A few of his other goals have been to have "better communications" with council members and city employees. He's also passionate about cleaning up the city.

"We live in a very attractive city and want to keep it that way," he said. Therefore, two part-time positions for clean-up were created.

His proposed budget would add six new policeman and staff to the firehall at 109.

"We are trying to bring the strength back up."

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