Live from Music Row Monday 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 the new GOP nominee for mayor of Rutherford County, Tennessee, Joe Carr, in-studio to talk about the growth of Rutherford County and creating a cohesive working relationship with mayors within the county.
Leahy: In-studio, our good friend and GOP nominee for mayor of Rutherford County, Mr. Joe Carr. He’s a former state representative who has lived in Rutherford County county most of his life.
Talk a little bit about the changes that have come in Rutherford County since your family moved back there in 1971.
Carr: So, the biggest change is just the exponential growth in our population.
Leahy: It’s huge.
Carr: It’s huge.
Leahy: It is huge.
Carr: We’re now at about 360,000, we’re maybe 10 to 15,000 thousand people behind Hamilton County, which is Chattanooga.
Leahy: You’re going to surpass Hamilton County in about three years.
Carr: In about three years.
Leahy: So that would make you what, the third-largest?
Carr: Behind Knox, Davidson, and Shelby.
Leahy: A large county.
Carr: Yes, Rutherford County.
Leahy: When I moved here back in 1991, basically it was a rural county with Murfreesboro as a small city. And then Smyrna is kind of a large-town suburb.
Carr: Yeah, that’s right.
Leahy: It’s not quite as rural anymore.
Carr: Oh, it’s not. With 360,000 people, you’ve got over 150,000 in Murfreesboro, you’ve got over 50,000 in Smyrna, and you’ve got 35 in La Vergne. And then of course, you have Eagleville. Those are the four municipalities.
70 percent of the population in Rutherford County is in one of those four municipalities, which is really significant. And of course, the Rutherford County mayor is just not the mayor of the unincorporated areas, but the incorporated areas as well.
And probably the most significant thing that I can do is create an environment where the county mayor and the city mayors and the constitutional officers work together.
Because in the last couple of years, but more particularly in the last few months, the relationship has been strained, to put it mildly.
Leahy: Why has that relationship been strained between the Rutherford County mayor and the mayors of the city of Murfreesboro and Smyrna, La Vergne, and Eagleville?
Carr: I think it goes to a different idea of what the county mayor’s responsibilities role is. The current mayor and I have different ideas and philosophies about what leadership looks like.
I believe the county mayor, in large perspective, is there to provide help and assistance to the city mayors and the constitutional office so they can better help them, and assist them.
Leahy: Help them rather than tell them, is that it?
Carr: You have it exactly right. And so if the Mayor of Smyrna, Mary Esther Reed, or the mayor of Murfreesboro, Shane McFarland, or Jason Cole or Mr. Leeman in Eagleville, if they need something that can benefit their community, I want us to have a relationship where they can pick up the phone and say, hey, Joe, this is something we want to do. Can the county assist us? Can the county partner with us?
Instead of me being a competitor or an adversary, I want to be a partner, because I’m approaching this with the premise, Michael, that if it’s good for Smyrna, Murfreesboro, La Vergne, and Eagleville, it probably is good for Rutherford County.
Leahy: So is there any constitutional difference between the duties of the mayors of the city and the county mayor?
Carr: There is. And the funny thing about this is the city mayors have a lot more latitude statutorily than the county mayor does.
The county mayor is much more restricted in the things they can do and they cannot do whereas the city mayors are not as restricted, which creates challenges. But it is what it is.
The county mayor and the county sheriff are some of the two most powerful positions in our constitutional state form of government. You’ve already referenced that at this hour. But it’s true.
And so I have to take that constitutional authority very seriously. In other words, by the executive order, it was the county mayors that could issue or not issue mask mandates.
And we saw how Mayor Ogles dealt with that issue in Maury County. We saw how Mayor Ketron in Rutherford County dealt with that issue differently. And so those are important distinctions.
Leahy: My sense is that you would be more likely to deal with it in a less authoritarian way.
Carr: Nothing gets by you, Michael. You’re exactly correct. I would side with Mr. Mayor Ogles on this issue.
Watch 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.