Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland Discusses City Government Structures and Colorado-Based Notes Live’s Planned New Amphitheater

Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Murfreesboro, Tennessee’s Mayor Shane McFarland to the newsmaker line to learn about his background and discuss entertainment company Notes Live’s planned new $40 million amphitheater.

Leahy: We are joined on the newsmaker line now by Shane McFarland, Mayor of Murfreesboro. Good morning, Mayor McFarland.

McFarland: Good morning, Michael Patrick. How are you doing?

Leahy: I’m doing great. This is the first time you and I have had a chance to talk. Tell us a little bit about who you are and how long you’ve been mayor of Murfreesboro, the largest city in the fast-growing county of Rutherford County, here in Middle Tennessee.

McFarland: It’s my pleasure to talk to you. I listen to you frequently. I’ve been mayor for eight years now and then before that, I was a council member for eight years.

But it’s not commonly known that the mayor of Murfreesboro, we have a council manager form of government. So I am a part-time mayor. Actually, I’m a full-time mayor that gets paid part-time. How’s that, Michael?

Leahy: (Chuckles) Shane, where are you from? What’s your background and what got you involved in politics?

McFarland: Yeah, originally I’m from Monteagle, Tennessee, a small town in between Murfreesboro and Chattanooga. My mom and dad still live there.

My mom was a special or a teacher’s assistant in the Grundy County school system. And my dad actually is retiring Thursday.

He was in the banking industry for 40-plus years, but graduated from Grundy County High School and came to MTSU with my twin brother to go to college. We were the first two in our family to ever go to college.

And I came to Murfreesboro. I was a student body President at MTSU and never left Murfreesboro. I mean, I loved it so much. My wife is originally from here. We have three kids, two 18-year-old twin boys, and then we have a 9-year-old.

Leahy: What’s your twin brother up to?

McFarland: (Chuckles) He lives about half a mile from me. And what’s pretty crazy is I’m an identical twin, and then I have identical twins. Sean works for the VA system.

He is a doctor of pharmacy. So he goes around the country and trains different people in VA clinics on anticoagulation. Shawn is the smartest guy I know.

Leahy: When you’re not running the city as Mayor and working with the council and the city manager there, what do you do for a living besides that?

McFarland: For almost 25 years – I’ve owned my own company for almost 20 years – but I do high-end residential construction and medical construction. Historically we have done a lot of work in Williamson County.

And then here, I categorize it, that we do the detail type of work that no one really wants to do. So we do a lot of medical stuff. And I graduated from TSU with an accounting degree. So I don’t know how I ended up having a construction company, but here I am.

Leahy: There you are! Let’s talk about this form of government. What’s the relationship in Murfreesboro between the mayor, the city council, and the city manager?

McFarland: The city manager basically runs all the day-to-day operations of the city. There’s technically only four people who work directly for the council.

In other words, there’s only four people that the council, on a Thursday night, could decide that they wanted to fire or hire someone else.

You have the city manager, the city attorney, the city recorder, who – the city recorder is really just more of a ceremonial job. And then you have the city judge. Those are the four people. And our relationship, is I mean, if you can picture this, the city manager is a really tough position because you have seven bosses.

And so the city manager a lot of times has to be able to weigh the opinions of seven people to get a clear direction on which way the council wants to go.

Leahy: So, seven members of the council. Are you elected as mayor and one of the council members, or how does that work?

McFarland: That’s correct. Yes, I’m elected as mayor. That’s a sole election, then there are six city council members that, every two years, three are voted on. But yeah, I have a vote just like the other council members. So it’s an interesting form of government.

Leahy: Is your term four years, or how long is your term?

McFarland: It is four years, actually. This last term was a little longer than four years because we changed our election date from April to August. So this last term, or the term that I’m finishing now, will be almost five years.

Leahy: Are you up again this August?

McFarland: I am. I’m running again, yes.

Leahy: And what’s it look like for you? Do you have any opposition?

McFarland: Yeah, I think the last election I ran unopposed; this election there’s, I think a couple of people who are running. But Murfreesboro, Michael, we’ve been blessed here.

For any elected official, the last four years have been really tough. You go back to 2018. We had the White Lives rally that was here.

Leahy: I was there. I reported on it for Breitbart. That was something. By the way, let me just say law enforcement handled that superbly. It was exactly the opposite of the way Charlottesville handled it. You did everything right there.

McFarland: Well, we appreciate that. I joke that I never thought that my house would be put under a special watch for standing up against the people who were coming. But all the credit goes to the law enforcement officials.

We’ve got some really good emergency service people here. And now, the model that we put into place for Rutherford County and for that day, that’s used all across the country now on how you deal with those different types of situations.

Leahy: You separate them. That’s the number one thing. And they did such a great job. They did exactly the opposite of what they did in Charlottesville. Let’s talk about this new announcement you made.

There’s a $40 million amphitheater partnership with a group called Notes Live, an entertainment group. They’re going to build a 4,500-seat, state-of-the-art open-air amphitheater in the Murfreesboro Gateway. Tell us about that.

McFarland: Yes. Our staff has been working with the team for many months. A lot of these type of developments, the internal staff will work really hard to get those to a position to where they can present those to me and the council.

So they worked really hard, and this group is coming from Colorado Springs. They chose Murfreesboro over many other municipalities not only in the mid-state, around the country, to bring a 4,500 seat open-air theater – an open-air theater is not going to be open year-round, clearly because of the weather – but they really saw Middle Tennessee as a market to where this type of venue there’s not really anything like it in the mid-state

Nashville has the Ascend Amphitheater. There’s the Municipal Auditorium and then there’s Bridgestone. Of course, you have the Ryman and some of those other events but this gives the opportunity to have something a little different for people to come to Murfreesboro.

Listen to the interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Background Photo “Murfreesboro” by Pollinator. CC BY-SA 2.0.
















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One Thought to “Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland Discusses City Government Structures and Colorado-Based Notes Live’s Planned New Amphitheater”

  1. 83ragtop50

    Does the company pay for the entire cost of this development or does a big chunk of it fall on the shoulder (pocketbooks) of the residents? Just wondering.