State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), who is running to replace the retiring Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess, exchanged volleys with rival and former County Commissioner Tina Jones over the gas tax and the Nashville transit plan this week, just as early voting in the May 1 primary election began.
Ketron has endorsed the idea of a monorail running from Nashville to Murfreesboro. He has not “publicly endorsed” the Barry transit plan for Nashville, but he has expressed support for her light rail plans by text as soon as she announced them. Ketron has not denied “privately” endorsing the Barry transit plan, as WKRN reported.
Jones has pointed out that Nashville wouldn’t even be having a tax increase referendum had it not been authorized by the Ketron-supported IMPROVE Act, Governor Haslam’s gas tax increase that passed the Tennessee General Assembly and was signed into law last year, which would also enable a similar tax increase referendum in Rutherford County.
In her statement voicing strong opposition to the $9 billion transit plan proposal “Let’s Move Nashville,” Jones asserted:
When Senator Bill Ketron voted for the gasoline tax increase as part of the IMPROVE Act, he voted to allow local tax increases like the one being considered by voters in Nashville. His support for that transit tax in Nashville, and his expressed desire to expand their transit plan into Rutherford County is a clear indication that he is planning more tax increases for us if he is elected as County Mayor. I oppose the MeganBarry/Bill Ketron transit plan and tax increase in Nashville and I oppose doing the same thing here in Rutherford County.
In an email to The Tennessee Star, Ketron wrote:
On Governor Bill Haslam’s IMPOVE Act / 2017 Tax Cut Act, I was pleased to vote for the largest tax cut in Tennessee history. While one category, highway user fees, increased by a few cents, the legislation cut $300 million in taxes for Tennesseans this year and $500 million annually at full implementation – all while rebuilding a safe and reliable transportation network.
This is so important to Rutherford County, because it allows us to widen Jefferson Pike from Nissan Blvd. to I 840, to widen Hwy. 99 from Old Fort Parkway to Armstrong Valley Road, and do numerous bridge improvements and the resurfacing of all our major roads. We are already seeing a million new dollars going toward Rutherford County road and bridge projects as a result of this act. This not only helps alleviate traffic in our county, but brings new and better paying jobs for our citizens.
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Ketron also addressed criticism that he had accepted a $500 donation from former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry in 2017.
“I did not ask for funds from the former Nashville mayor, they were sent to me without request and upon finding out about her recent issues I donated those funds to Special Kids (a not-for-profit organization in Murfreesboro). On transportation issues, I have never publicly endorsed the former Nashville mayor’s transit plan. In fact I oppose it and think it would be a disaster,” Ketron stated in his email to The Star.
The Ketron campaign accepted Mayor Barry’s $500 donation in January 2017.
It was more than a year later, and immediately subsequent to a March 13, 2018 story in The Star reporting on the Barry donation that Ketron announced he would donate the $500 donated to his campaign by the Barry campaign to charity.
Early Voting began Wednesday, April 11 and runs through April 26. Election Day is May 1st.