Councilwoman Kaye Jones had the 20-30 people in the world of Clarksville city politics abuzz two weeks ago after she hinted at announcing a citywide campaign.
There’s only two offices in Clarksville’s government elected by voters from across the city: the city judge and the city mayor. City judges must be trained in law, which to my knowledge Jones is not, so the obvious implication was that the one-term council member was going to challenge Mayor Kim McMillan in November 2014
But, according to a press release sent this morning, Jones is not going to throw her hat into the mayoral ring… yet. Jones is going to “leave that possibility open,” while running a citywide “We the People Clarksville, Tennessee Campaign.” Jones said the campaign will seek to find citizens in Clarksville willing to get involved in city government.
“Not only do I want to identify the citizens in our city that are willing to serve, I also want to hear the needs, opinions and suggestions from the Citizens of Clarksville,” Jones said in the release. “I want to form some committees to organize our citizens to help empower the people again.”
Jones makes it clear in the release that she’s unhappy with how the city government is running, writing that she consistently hears that the mayor and other council members “will not seek and or listen to their opinions, suggestions and concerns on matters that come before our city government.” But details on the campaign, if she’ll accept donations (she’ll have to form a PAC or candidate committee to legally do that), if she’s organizing to support another mayoral candidate, or if she’s just setting up a future run for mayor, are on short supply in the 1,100-word release.
Jones does make it clear that she’s “not asking you to vote right now,” which probably makes sense since other than the Leaf Chronicle’s daily polls there’s no poll booths open this August.
If you grabbed a copy of Sunday’s paper you’d know that one third of downtown’s 1.2 billion in appraised property value is exempt from paying property taxes. The combination of APSU, churches and government buildings throws downtown’s proportion far above the average for Montgomery County as a whole, where only 8 percent of property is exempt.
I’ve storified my live coverage from last night’s voting session, it starts with this:
And includes this kitty!
How could you not check it out?
The latest round of financial disclosures for all active candidates in Montgomery County didn’t raise any heartbeats, barely even an eyebrow.
Mayor Kim McMillan’s account jumped by $3,711 to $14,080 due to an accounting error while former mayor Johnny Piper’s account still has $18,744 left from his last bout of fundraising in late 2009.
Political candidates must continue to file financial disclosures with the Montgomery County Election Commission every six months for as long as they have any money in their accounts. Neither Piper nor McMillan reported receiving any donations since the last disclosure was due in December.
McMillan announced in October that she will seek reelection in 2014. Piper hasn’t said if will or will not run.
No other candidates for the city mayor’s office have filed paperwork with the election commission.
McMillan said, in a letter to the election commission, that an unknown accounting error had caused the jump in cash.
“I have extensively researched the accounting through past disclosures and bank statements, but have been unable to determine where the error was made. T he difference of $3711.83 is being listed under itemized contributions, as I was instructed by the State Registry of Election Finance office., which will bring the balance on hand in our bank account in line with the balance being shown in my disclosure.”
Here’s a full list of all candidates with active balances in their accounts. Councilman David Allen has an active account but did not file a disclosure by Monday’s deadline, according to Vickie Koelman, election administrator for the county.
|Candidate||Office||Balance on hand||Total disbursements||Outstanding loans|
|Johnny Piper||City mayor||$18,744.00||$0.00||$0.00|
|Kim McMillan||City mayor||$14,080.52||$344.00||$0.00|
|Norman Lewis (deceased)||Sheriff||$3,017.49||$0.00||$0.00|
|Betty Burchett||Assessor of property||$2,069.97||$0.00||$6,484.20|
|Mike Frost||Highway supervisor||$1,248.81||$0.00||$20,759.21|
|Valerie Guzman||City Council||$1,019.43||$220.00||$0.00|
|Carolyn Bowers||County mayor||$365.00||$1,199.00||$0.00|
|Jeff Burkhart||City Council||$98.03||$0.00||$0.00|
|Wallace Redd||City council||$0.00||$851.74||$0.00|
This isn’t likely to go over well with some of the City Council members: two out of the five people Mayor Kim McMillan nominated for her newly formed Ethics Commission have donated to her campaigns.
The donations are not large, but these are likely to ruffle a few feathers on the council:
- Gene Washer disclosed that he donated “$50 or $75 to Kim McMillan (at) some kind of party. Don’t remember the exact amount.”
- Ellen Kanervo disclosed that her husband, David Kanervo – who is a political science professor at APSU, the same department McMillan briefly taught at before running for mayor – made “a small donation ($50 – $100) to Mayor Kim McMillan’s campaign.”
- Willie J. Freeman disclosed that he donated to McMillan’s mayoral campaign. Freeman did not specify the amount and his donation does not appear as an itemized donation on McMillan’s campaign disclosures, indicating the donation was likely under $100.
Robert Bateman and Hubert G. Smith, the other two nominees for the commission, did not disclose any political donations.
The City Council plans on discussing the nominations at tonight’s nonvoting session. The nominees will likely be voted on at Tuesday’s voting session; they only need to be voted on once to become official.
Correction: an earlier version of this post ran with the headline “Most of McMillan’s Ethics Commission nominees donated to her campaigns.” The headline has been updated to more accurately reflect the story.
Mayor Kim McMillan has nominated five people to the new Ethics Commission – which embroiled the City Council for over six months while they debated how the council should deal with ethics allegations.
The appointments are:
- Robert T. Bateman
- Willie J. Freeman
- Ellen Kanervo
- Hubert G. Smith
- Gene Washer
Board appointments only need one vote and are often put in the consent agenda – which is a block of items all voted on at once due to their non-controversial status – but my guess is the council, or at least some members of it, will really push for a full vetting of these five people.
The only two names I immediately recognize are Gene Washer and Ellen Kanervo.
Washer worked at The Leaf-Chronicle for 45 years and became the paper’s 21st publisher in 1991. Washer retired from the paper in 2008.
Kanervo was a longtime journalism professor at Austin Peaye State University and is now executive director of the Clarksville/Montgomery County Arts & Heritage Development Council.
This will add another interesting issue to Thursday’s nonvoting session, which is followed immediately by a special session to vote on the city’s 2014 budget.