The Mt. Juliet mayor's seat is up for reelection Nov. 8 with incumbent Ed Hagerty contested by challenger former city and county commissioner Jim Bradshaw.
Bradshaw was unseated as District 4 city commissioner in 2014 by Brian Abston after serving about 18 years for the district. Hagerty served three terms as city commissioner and filled Linda Elam's mayoral seat when she resigned in March 2011. He was reelected mayor in Nov. 2012.
The leadership of Mt. Juliet is critical as the city continues its rapid growth and struggles to keep infrastructure in pace with that growth.
We decided to ask Hagerty why he wanted to remain mayor of "the city between the lakes" during this burgeoning era and Bradshaw why he'd like to take helm in November. Here are their answers. Incumbents District 1 Ray Justice's seat and District 3 Art Giles' seat were up for reelection. They both are uncontested.
If you have questions for the mayoral candidates, email them to Laurie Everett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why do you want to run for mayor?
I miss my job working with the City of Mt. Juliet. I served approximately 18 years as city commissioner and some of that time as vice mayor.
What are some of your platform agendas?
Traffic relief, traffic solutions, more parks with family-oriented facilities, supporting a number-one ranked animal control and adoption center, more meeting facilities, sidewalks and bike lanes.
What are some of the traits you feel would be good for mayor?
Community oriented; flexibility in your personal and work schedule; wisdom in expenditures; dedication; listen and support the people.
Hagerty has been mayor since 2011. Do you feel you could bring something else to the office?
I will stand by what I commit to and look at the whole picture when I make a decision for the city.
How would you deal with supporting managed growth in Mt. Juliet?
The first step is the planning commission. The mayor is at liberty to serve on the committee or appoint someone. Also, we've got to look at developments wanting approval and base it on the city having the infrastructure.
Do you feel it's been managed thus far?
We have a good planning commission with some big decisions, but approving two more sets of apartments that have not opened yet, and our traffic is scary in the Providence area. Sometimes you just have to say no.
Do you feel infrastructure has kept up with growth?
Sewer, public works and the police department have. The traffic situation is a no. Such as: Traveling from Providence Way/Belinda Parkway and Mt. Juliet Road north and southbound at Providence with five lanes reduced to two lanes toward Central Pike; Lebanon Road eastbound five lanes to two lanes. These are two prime examples.
Are you comfortable with our current city property tax rate?
Do you think there should be increase to maintain general services?
This would not even be a question if state and county governments would step up with more help.
Tell us why you would be a good mayor?
I listen to the people. After serving approximately 18 years as a Mt. Juliet city commissioner and four years as Wilson County commissioner, I want to serve as your mayor. I am a dedicated person.
What do want for Mt. Juliet in the future?
To continue as a thriving city; to be safe and keep a low crime rate; for our citizens to be proud to call Mt. Juliet home, to make wise decisions in the growth of the city; to keep our low tax rate heritage and to have infrastructure ready for development.
Please review you service in government for Mt. Juliet.
In the late 90's, I was a part of a citizen group called "Concerned Citizens of Mt. Juliet." They asked me to run for District 3 Commissioner in 2000. I thought about it, prayed about it, and decided to get involved. I was elected in 2000, then reelected in 2004 and 2008. On March 31, 2011, I became Mayor when then Mayor Elam resigned. I was reelected mayor in Nov. 2012.
Why did you decide to run for mayor again?
I have no political ambition. I have prayed about running again, and I believe I have been called to do this job. The Commission is united like never before. We are all on the same page and moving in the same direction. I like all of my colleagues and like the good folks who work at the city. It's been an honor and a pleasure to serve.
Is this the first time you've been contested? If not, when were you?
No. Four years ago, when running for mayor, there were three candidates in the race.
Why have you re-upped for the seat again?
As mentioned, I feel called to do this job. My work here isn't finished. We will solve our traffic problems. We will continue to keep people safe. We will continue to hold a high bar for any new development proposals.
Tell me some of your accomplishments over the years as mayor?
Mt. Juliet is ranked #3 most family friendly city in the state, #4 safest city in the state, six years in a row labeled a Playful City, #4 City on the Rise, and #1 healthiest housing market in the State. These things don't happen by accident. They are a result of intentional decisions by the Board of Commissioners.
What have been your biggest struggles?
The initial struggle was to unite the Board and city staff and to eliminate drama. In years prior, we were often on the front page of the paper... and not in a good way. Some say our meetings are now boring. To that, I say, "Mission Accomplished." It's important to be respectful and courteous to all, especially when there is disagreement.
Do you feel the city is going in the right direction - infrastructure, managed growth wise?
Overall, yes, the city is moving in the right direction. Regarding infrastructure, we spend the vast majority of our time dealing with roads. We will open the new five-lane, $25-million-dollar Eastern Connector in October 2017. This road will connect to I-40 at Beckwith and go northward to Lebanon Rd. Until now, there has been one way in and one way out of Mt. Juliet. The new road, called Golden Bear Gateway, will be a game changer for us. It will take a significant amount of traffic off Mt. Juliet Rd. We are working on signal improvements through the Adaptive Signal project which is predicted to significantly increase traffic flows. We are also working on the bridge-widening project at I-40, lane additions on Belinda Parkway, a new Central Pike interchange, and more.
Why should people reelect you? Do you still have things you'd like to accomplish?
Mt. Juliet is a special place. I love this city and will work tirelessly to improve it. My hopes during the next 4 years are to continue to make Mt. Juliet a family friendly and safe city, solve the traffic issues, create a true downtown, continue our beautification efforts, and more.
When you look into the future of Mt. Juliet, what do you portend?
It's important in this position to think five years, 10 years and more into the future. The future for Mt. Juliet is bright. We are 10 miles from an International Airport, we are situated between two beautiful lakes, we enjoy a quality of life second to none. It's not hard to see the day when white-collar jobs are located here rather than commuting to downtown Nashville.
Do you think MJ needs to have a property tax increase?
We just decreased the city property tax from 20 cents per $100,000 of assessed value to 16.5 cents. There's no reason for an increase.
One thing you'd wish for Mt. Juliet?
A family fun center is on my bucket list! The challenge is our buildings are fairly new. These businesses typically locate in older centers. Another often-requested service is a Costco or Sams. We are very close to their population threshold, and we are communicating with them regularly.