Smyrna Town Council will have a new face at the town council meeting on Monday, May 7 as Robert C. Johnson beat former council member Bill Pressley 321 to 291 in Monday’s election for the open at-large seat.
Councilwoman Valerie White will serve her third term on council as the representative from District 3; White ran unopposed after opponent Daniel Greek withdrew from the race.
A total of 651 residents voted in the election held at Citizens’ Hose Company on West Commerce Street.
What started out in March as five candidates running for two open council seats turned into a two-man race on Monday as Greek dropped out of the District 3 race. Melaine Minear was the fifth candidate; she was running for the open at-large seat left vacant by outgoing Councilman Bob Riddagh, who served as vice mayor while in office.
Minear stepped down in mid-April.
“I believe someone who has lived here much longer than me, who has much more invested in the community should be on council,” Minear previously said.
With Minear out of the race, the vacant seat would be left for a fresh face in Johnson or a former council member in Pressley.
For Johnson, who’s a newcomer to council but sits on two town committees, he feels great about winning his first term on council.
“I feel good. I have the opportunity to try to make a difference to the town,” Johnson said.
As a member on council, Johnson hopes he and his fellow council members will be able to work together to try and find the best solution for any problems the town may have during his term.
“The important thing with council is that you have to work together as a team,” he said.
Johnson is thankful for the people that voted for him and he plans on having monthly meetings with community members and groups to discuss their issues and concerns.
For White, she’s looking forward to serving her third term on council.
“I’ve learned a great deal in my six years on council and I hope to be able to use the things I’ve learned for my next three years,” she said.
She’s also looking forward to serving with newcomer Johnson. “I look forward to another three years with my current council members.”
Both White and Johnson will serve three-year terms through April 2014.
Referendum voted down by residents
The referendum for the new proposed police station failed by 20 votes on Monday as Smyrna residents voted the measure down 327 to 307.
Residents were able to vote for the referendum while voting in the town council election.
Even though the proposal was voted down, Police Chief Wil Bordley left feeling encouraged. The vote was non-binding meaning Smyrna Town Council can still approve plans for a new police station.
“I feel good about it. With a vote that close, it shows that the people are split on it,” Bordley said. “For the building to lose by 20 votes for a first-time-ever referendum in this town, that’s not bad…that’s not bad at all.”
Although Bordley would’ve liked to have won, the results of the referendum will give council exactly what the town council wanted.
“Council was looking for a barometer to gauge whether to move forward with the building or not and this is that barometer,” he said.
The $4.9 million proposed building – at roughly 26,000 square feet - would’ve addressed the current issues with the building on Glenwood Avenue such as space.
“I want to thank everybody for their support that came out and voted and got involved," Bordley said.
Email Jennifer Dailey at firstname.lastname@example.org.