Ward 3 councilman petitions for election

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Another incumbent councilman has obtained a petition to run in Lewisburg's election. Meanwhile, a seated councilman has filed his petition to be named on the city ballot next spring.

Odie Whitehead Jr., 62, of Second Avenue North, made it official last week. He's a candidate in the May 6 election. Whitehead was appointed on Oct. 28 to succeed Betsy Shelton, the second of two successors to former Councilman Elvin White who moved out of town.

Whitehead is campaigning to continue his representation of residents in Ward 3 who vote at the Hardison Annex. He's the second candidate to come out for several races. Ronald McRady of Second Avenue South was the first candidate to file and have 25 verified signatures of registered voters on his petition.

"I find it very interesting to be on the City Council and I've enjoyed being there," Whitehead said when asked about his first month on the panel.

There are four seats on the City Council election ballot and two apparently have no incumbent running for re-election.

Mayor Bob Phillips has said that after 12 years in office, it's time to step down. Councilman Phil Sanders was elected with Phillips and has said he'd leave with Phillips. Sanders represents Ward 4. McRady wants to succeed him

Councilman Hershel Davis represents Ward 2.

The deadline for candidates to file petitions is noon Feb. 19. They may withdraw within a week.

While early voting won't start within four months, some issues may be developing, but not according to Whitehead.

"I've not heard of any issues at this time - just to be open and fair," Whitehead said.

He has, however, "had calls from people who've had an interest in things going on and I've followed through on them. One of them was the light to be placed on the by-pass near Lawler's and Stan McNabb's" Ford dealership.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has granted a request from Lewisburg and Marshall County officials so the city may now proceed with plans for installation of traffic signals on North Ellington Parkway at Rock Crusher Road and Fifth Avenue North.

"I think the city has agreed, according to the information I have, to erect the light," Whitehead said. "It's going to be put up.

"Other calls are minor things that (residents) have asked me to look in to," he said declining to be any more specific than a traffic matter such as "a four-way stop being blocked, and some things some other folks have expressed concerns about."

Whitehead said on Friday he was unaware of who might be running for mayor, or other seats on the Council. He was also unaware of any coalition being formed in which candidates for different offices unite as a team.

"As far as openly endorsing a candidate," Whitehead said, "I probably won't. I have not been approached."

When asked about topics of public concern, McRady cited issues surrounding the proposed expansion of Cedar Ridge Landfill. He opposed the Council's decision to permit Waste Management Inc.'s application proceed through the review process at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

The decision by Sanford Corp. to close its pencil factory in Lewisburg was mentioned by McRady as a concern since, beyond the elimination of 355 jobs here, there's a concurrent impact on local government revenue. Meanwhile, if the state permits Cedar Ridge to expand, the city stands to save an estimated $130,000 annually in tipping fees because Waste Management has promised to accept city trash collections at no charge.