State Senator Bill Ketron Announces Bid for Rutherford County Mayor

Tennessee Star


State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) is running Rutherford County Mayor, the Daily News Journal reports.

It will be the fourth run for the office since his first bid in the 1990s.

Via the DNJ:

A Republican from Murfreesboro, Ketron ran for the office (once called county executive) in 1990, 1994 and 1998. He served on the Rutherford County Commission from 1990 to 1998 and has served in the state Senate since 2002. Ketron’s current term ends in November 2018.

Ketron’s announcement is another indication the 2018 election could see a massive turnover in the Tennessee General Assembly.

“Senator Ketron is just the latest in an increasingly long list of legislators who will be leaving to seek other offices or retiring. I wouldn’t be surprised if 2018 gives us as many as two dozen State House and Senate open seats. 2018 could be one of the most tumultuous years we have seen in Tennessee politics in a long time,” media consultant and political analyst Steve Gill tells The Tennessee Star.

Immediately after Ketron’s announcement, “State Representative Dawn White announced that she will be a candidate for the District 13 State Senate seat in the August 2018 Republican Primary,” WGNS reported on Sunday:

The District 13 seat covers the western half of Rutherford County, including portions of the City of Murfreesboro, the Town of Smyrna, the City of La Vergne, the City of Eagleville and the Rockvale, Blackman, Walter Hill, and Leanna communities.

This is the seat currently held by Bill Ketron. Senator Ketron announced that he is seeking the position of Rutherford County Mayor. Current County Mayor Ernest Burgess has not made any official announcement, but his third term ends in August, 2018. Ketron’s senate term ends November, 2018.

Ketron has the support of County Commissioner Jeff Phillips in the race for Rutherford County Mayor, who sings his praises in the DNJ article:

“He’s been attentive as a senator to questions and concerns I’ve had on behalf of county governmental legislation that’s happened in the state, so he’s been real responsive and an effective leader,” Phillips said.

Phillips recalled that Ketron as a county commissioner came up with the idea to establish a development tax that at this time generates $1,500 per new house or apartment.

“I thought it was very innovative on his part,” said Phillips, who also expects that Ketron would be effective in lobbying the state on behalf of the county. “I just think he’d be a good leader. Mayor Burgess has been an absolute pleasure to work with and is very efficient, and I think Bill would carry that torch well in the future.”

But it won’t be all smooth sailing for the would-be County Mayor, as he was a staunch supporter of Governor Haslam’s unpopular IMPROVE Act, which was passed by the Tennessee General Assembly this session.  The gas tax increase included in the IMPROVE Act went into effect across the state on Saturday.

“I’ll stand firm behind what I voted for when you have people like Art Laffer (an economic adviser to former President Ronald Reagan) who came in to testify that he didn’t consider the Improve Act a tax increase because we were decreasing taxes more than the increase of the gas tax,” Ketron told the DNJ.

“I viewed the gas tax as critical for infrastructure,” he added. “Most of our bridges were built between 1955 and 1965. Most of those bridges were in disrepair across the state.”

Anther big-ticket spending items on his agenda is a monorail project, DNJ reports:

Ketron is also known for wanting to relieve traffic jams on Interstate 24 by either building a monorail in the median or a light rail line if the state can obtain a right of way from the CSX railroad.

The senator spearheaded a law that enables public-private partnerships to be formed to establish mass transportation projects, such as ones in the Nashville area.

“Government can’t continue to pay for 100 percent of everything,” said Ketron, who foresees businesses making profits from mass transit in many ways, including advertising and economic development projects along the routes. “It’s a regional issue.”

No other well known figures have yet announced their candidacy for the Rutherford County Mayor position. Ketron’s long track record in the county as an elected official makes him the early frontrunner.

However, his support for the unpopular gas tax increase may encourage a conservative challenger who favors repeal of the gas tax to step forward.

Voters first met Ketron as a Democrat in his early runs for Rutherford County Mayor (then called County Executive) in 1990 and 1994. He switched parties and ran again in 1998 as a Republican, meanwhile serving on the County Commission from 1990-1998.

Ketron ran for and was elected to the Tennessee State Senate in 2002, has served as chairman of the Senate’s State and Local Government Committee, a member of Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee, and the chairman of Senate Majority Caucus.

In 2016, he was a delegate to nominate Donald Trump for the presidency at the Republican National Convention.

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