Ranked second to last in the nation for voter turnout and nearly as bad in voter registration, Tennessee is faced with a problem: Getting residents to the polls.
The forum featured Ward 1 incumbent Peg Petrelli and candidate Eric Sitler, Ward 3 two-year unexpired term candidates Johnathan Hayes and Chris Spencer, and Ward 5 incumbent Paul Frisbee and candidates Charles Alexander and Russ Edwards.
Here are five key points each candidate addressed:
Recent meetings of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen have shown undeniable tension among members of our city government. What do you see as your role in lessening that hostility or increasing civility?
Petrelli (Ward 1): “I will continue to ask for transparency in all of our leaders, and I’m not afraid to ask questions.” She also noted, “It’s not personal with any of the members up here.”
Sitler (Ward 1): “There’s very poor communication between the aldermen and the residents. … It’s what the residents of the city want not what the board wants.”
Hayes (Ward 5): “The best way to calm that down and bring that BOMA together is we need to work together” and “vote based on what’s best for Hendersonville.”
Spencer (Ward 5): Residents “feel like they haven’t been heard. If I’m elected I will serve the residents.”
Frisbee (Ward 3): “Occasionally one or two aldermen will get into a heated debate, but it’s because we’re passionate. … We’re able to leave here and walk out that door just as friends as any other person.”
Alexander (Ward 3): “People come to the meetings amped up about some of the issues because they believe they’re not getting addressed.” BOMA needs to “work towards getting the information out to the people to lessen the burden.”
Edwards (Ward 3): “It gets very emotional,” Edwards said, adding, “I will try to be professional and get along with people no matter how stressful the situation is.”
Do you think the city would be better served by adding a city administrator?
Petrelli (Ward 1): Wants to see results from ad-hoc committee; “There’s nothing for me to discuss until we have discovery.”
Sitler (Ward 1): No; “Absent any reason to justify that position I would say no.”
Hayes (Ward 5): Yes; “I might call it a chief of staff. This person would report directly to the mayor. This person would take of the administrative loads so that our mayor could go out there and make all the ABC meetings they need to go to.”
Spencer (Ward 5): No; “We don’t have the money. … It neuters his power.”
Frisbee (Ward 3): Wants to see results from committee but leaning towards it; city administrator could “oversee the City Hall portion, be like a department head” so the mayor “can do all the other work to help grow the city.”
Alexander (Ward 3): No; “Don’t add another liability to the budget” and work on “Delegating responsibilities to other groups.”
Edwards (Ward 3): No, but interested in results from committee; “It’s going to cost a lot more money that we don’t have. … I think the current mayor needs to be on board with this.”
What can the City of Hendersonville do to improve environmental protection and pollution control?
Editor’s note: Each candidate mentioned the majority of environmental protections are at the state and federal level.
Petrelli (Ward 1): “It would be very nice to possibly conserve” the land close to the arboretum.
Sitler (Ward 1): Wants to be proactive about wastewater.
Hayes (Ward 5): “Grateful” for the parks system, air purification from the TVA plant in Gallatin and cleanliness of Old Hickory Lake.
Spencer (Ward 5): Wants to address flooding from the increased concrete in the city and make sure blasting is under control so it does not have harmful effects on buildings.
Frisbee (Ward 3): Wants to make sure area around Old Hickory Lake is kept clean.
Alexander (Ward 3): Wants to keep ditches and areas prone to runoff clean and address drainage.
Edwards (Ward 3): Wants to make sure no there’s runoff in the lake (from construction)