Q&A: Meet the candidates running for Brentwood City Commission

Early voting runs April 14-29 for the May 4 election. (Graphic by Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Early voting runs April 14-29 for the May 4 election. (Graphic by Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Early voting runs April 14-29 for the May 4 election. (Graphic by Community Impact Newspaper staff)



Brentwood



Brentwood City Commissioner










Mark Gorman



Occupation: Retired Healthcare Executive/Owner/Operator


Experience: Finance and Operations of multi-site and regional operations






What do you believe is the biggest issue currently facing Brentwood residents and how would you address it?



MG: With the rapid, high density development happening on adjacent communities, pressure is mounting to abandon our tried and true blueprint of large, suburban, 1 acre per house lot size, generous park lands (over 1,000 acres) and family centered activities. With the mega growth that Nashville is experiencing, their property taxes are also ballooning to keep pace with the infrastructure requirements that expansion demands. In Brentwood, our growth and fiscal policies must be managed or risk the same fate that homeowners are facing to our north. Since we outsource all sewer and water services, it is important to stand strong against the pressure to allow up-zoning and apartment complexes. These would only serve to further exasperate our local schools and negatively impact property taxes



What would you want to accomplish most in your first few months of your term if elected?



MG: Over the past eight years, I have stood strong for Brentwood homeowners. During my tenure, I worked hard to encourage community collaboration, professionalism, and commitment to area residents that had been missing in city government. Prior to serving on the Brentwood City Commission, I served nine years on the planning commission and have deep rooted knowledge about effective planning, codes, and zoning to support individual homeowners and keep property taxes low.

If you choose to reelect me, I will continue championing the ban on high density, residential housing (apartments) in Brentwood, keep property taxes low, preserve the city’s credit rating high (AAA/Aaa), and protect the 1 acre per house requirement. Mega growth is a challenge and keeping our proven suburban blueprint is necessary for Brentwood to continuing being a very sought after suburban address. Brentwood’s schools are the best in the county and state and will only suffer if a mega density policy is suddenly adopted. I am grateful for the chance to serve my friends and neighbors. I encourage everyone to please vote for me on May 4th.









Gina Gunn



Occupation: Medical practice manager


Experience: Public school teacher, community leader






What do you believe is the biggest issue currently facing Brentwood residents and how would you address it?



GG: One of the biggest issues is the lack of diversity in the Brentwood City Government. There is a lack of diverse voices and ideas among our leaders. I'd like to change that with my election to the city commissioners seat. I'd like to do a community outreach to the residents of Brentwood to identify the needs of the diverse population and provide a way for them to speak up and become a part of this community.



What would you want to accomplish most in your first few months of your term if elected?



GG: Fix the potholes for one. After that I would like to do better outreach for the parks and library. They already do a fabulous job, but I think during this pandemic we need to find ways of using these institutions in a more nurturing way. Events that speak to all and not just a few. I'd also like to see the inclusive playground is appropriately funded, so that all can find pleasure in the great outdoors.









Rhea Little



Occupation: Owner operator of Rhea Little Tire & Auto Repair, Inc.


Experience: Business owner, have met payroll every Friday for decades; city commissioner of Brentwood for 12 years; mayor; vice mayor; member of planning commission, park board, tree board and environmental advisory board; served on numerous local, regional and state boards and advisory groups.






What do you believe is the biggest issue currently facing Brentwood residents and how would you address it?



RL: Brentwood is a unique and wonderful city, I think it is the greatest community in the world. Our biggest challenge continues to be growth—especially in how to deal with the growth of communities surrounding us. I would continue to address this challenge by maintaining prudent, thoughtful and methodical growth, and continuing our strict requirements of 1-acre density and having high development standards. With communities around us rapidly growing, it is vital we continue with experienced leadership that understands Brentwood’s past, the present challenges and with the seasoned vision to see that Brentwood’s future will be even better.


I would also continue strict attention to wise budgeting to keep us financially strong which helps to combat the challenges of pass-through traffic of communities around us. We will continue to carry out projects, such as the Sunset Road widening, working with the state to get Franklin Road widened as soon as possible and moving forward with the McEwen Drive extension to help with this.

I will also be supporting the work to keep our city secure. It has always been very important to the citizens of Brentwood and there has always been great support for our first responders. It is through determined leadership that our police and fire departments are internationally accredited. We will continue and build on that tradition with our new police headquarters and Fire Station No. 5.

Promoting our quality of life and health through our world class library, tremendous parks and trails systems and community events, such as the Independence Day celebration, Crockett Park concerts and Movies in the Park is also a top priority



What would you want to accomplish most in your first few months of your term if elected?



RL: There will be numerous things on the agenda. I will continue with the excellent budgeting process to insure no property tax increase—this will be our 31st straight year without a tax increase—and I will continue to maintain our tremendous reserves. With faithfulness, I will see the successful opening and operations of our new centrally located police headquarters. It will be with prayers and wisdom and great joy that we will be able to safely have our many Crockett Park outdoor events. We will begin planning for our newest park, Windy Hill and continue to work with Franklin to keep the McEwen Drive extension moving forward. I will continue to move forward Fire Station No. 5 on Split Log Road and to serve and support the citizens of Brentwood in the many ways that I have been able to serve them the last 12 years. It is a pleasure and an honor to serve. A vote for Rhea Little is a vote for leadership and service.









Regina Smithson



Occupation: John Smithson and Associates, Primerica Financial Services


Experience: Served three terms as mayor, vice mayor; served on park board, three terms on the planning commission, the historic commission, the environmental board, the sister city board, Historic Tour of Homes; volunteered at Brentwood High School, Brentwood Middle School and Scales Elementary School; worked as partner in Smithson and Associates; and presently a Brentwood city commissioner and representative on the library board.






What do you believe is the biggest issue currently facing Brentwood residents and how would you address it?



RS: While serving on the Brentwood City Commission we have worked diligently with our residents to meet the challenges of keeping Brentwood the best place to live in Middle Tennessee. Economically, we have graduated from “A+” rating with Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s to a “AAA“ bond rating without raising taxes. We have gone from 81 acres of park land to 1,090 acres and 27 miles of bike/walking trails. Schools are certainly an important Brentwood value; having donated $6,042,000 to our PTOs, and $2,400,000 to our new STEM building at Brentwood High. Safety is always at the top of Brentwood citizens’ list. We have the very best accredited police and fire departments. Our new police headquarters is opening this spring. Traffic concerns remain high on our priority list. Brentwood is a unique city with 20,000-plus non-residents commuting into Brentwood for work daily. We worked to facilitate safety and flow at the I-65 junction by persuading Metro Nashville to use the same up to date switching equipment as Brentwood already had in place. Now, those signals are coordinated to help flow along Franklin Road and Old Hickory Boulevard. We continue to look for innovative ideas like these to ease traffic in the future.



What would you want to accomplish most in your first few months of your term if elected?



RS: Good government cannot be managed in terms of months. As a former mayor and a commissioner for 26 years now, I have always considered myself to be someone who works for the residents of Brentwood. I am very aware of being the steward over the taxpayers’ money. My first year on the commission we had $600,000 in our general fund. Today, we have $43 million in our general fund. We also have an equipment replacement fund to pay for any large apparatus when it must be replaced. The city of Brentwood developed a planned vision with a team of residents, staff, and members from the different city volunteer boards in the early 90’s. This was called the “Brentwood 2000 Plan”. It has been updated on a 10- year basis with a 2030 Plan in place. This has been an extremely valuable visioning tool for the city to follow. Having lived in Brentwood since 1982 and having my three children and their families living in Brentwood, it is important for me to work hard for future generations. John and I have 11 grandchildren and one great grandson attending Brentwood High School, Brentwood Middle School, Scales Elementary School and Edmonson Elementary School. All three of our children and three of our grandchildren have graduated from Brentwood High. The most important thing about this election is “Keeping Brentwood On Track”


By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


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