Cooper stresses need for growth, Napier urges caution


Cooper stresses need for growth, Napier urges caution

Home Page Media Group hosted a Thompson’s Station election forum at the town’s community center Thursday night featuring two candidates for mayor and four for the two open alderman seats.

Home Page Media Group hosted a Thompson’s Station election forum at the town’s community center Thursday night featuring two candidates for mayor and four for the two open alderman seats.

The forum was moderated by former Williamson A.M. managing editor Mark Cook who read both staff-generated and public-submitted questions to candidates for both races.

The mayor candidates were each allowed a two-minute opening statement as well as a closing statement of the same length.

Cooper spoke first about her history in Thompson’s Station. She said she moved to the town 22 years ago when there was no State Rout 840, no Schaeffer system in place and no Kroger. It was then she decided to get involved because she wanted to help shape the future of the community.

“There are some significant challenges embedded in the life of the town today,” Cooper said. “The town’s contract with Crystal Clear, our sewer situation, and the question of traffic are some of the most prominent issues. I’m running for mayor because I believe the town needs to be self-sustaining and not be assimilated by our neighbors to the south.

“The fact is that growth is necessary. I want to improve our town plans and retain our rural character that everyone loves. This head-in-the-sand attitude of the present mayor is a disaster. It won’t help to strengthen us, and in fact it is a plan for future failure that solves nothing. There is great value in preserving our historic heritage.”

Napier then spoke and praised the forum’s great turnout.

“It’s great to be with neighbors,” Napier said. “Let’s all think about why we chose to live in Thompson’s Station. All who live here are choosing to retain the town brand that’s been here since we incorporated in 1990. In the years since we’ve built Thompson’s Station into a world class community.

“I want to see our investment carry on. Yes we’ll have growth, and in fact this town is at the epicenter of growth. Our two closest neighbors, Spring Hill and Franklin, are both struggling with growth. And in each of those cities their taxes are much higher than ours. I prefer the tortoise approach to growth. I believe we need to understand the risk and return on any possible growth before we open the floodgates.”

On a later question, the two candidates sparred briefly over the question of growth in the town, a topic that each has featured prominently in campaign materials and appearances. Cooper stated that Napier had called for a moratorium on growth during his tenure as mayor, an allegation which Napier denied, calling it “an incorrect and false statement.”

Each candidate answered affirmatively when asked whether campaign financial disclosures would be made available to the public. Both were also clear that the issues of the town meant far more to them than the identity of their respective donors.

In closing remarks, Napier and Cooper highlighted what they considered the heart of the matter in November’s election. The incumbent mayor spoke first.

“What do we expect out of a leader?” Napier asked. “The role of mayor is bigger than the person in office. I represent all of you, and I’m your neighbor. People connect with me one on one. A mayor’s role is to be an advocate and protector with the heart of a public servant. We are on the cusp of something remarkable in Thompson’s Station.”

Cooper reiterated the value of history and development.

“Here in Thompson’s Station we have a wealth of history we need to protect,” she said. “As your mayor I will try to keep our community character alive and healthy. I will work with all state agencies to promote sound development and seek the input of citizens. I’ll work to help grow a good tax base, improve our infrastructure and our parks. Moreover I will implement leadership through transparency because the people deserve open government.”

The four men competing for the two alderman slots are Brandon Bell, Cort Bethmann, Mike Roberts and Graham Shephard.

Cook opened the alderman session by asking how long each candidate had lived in Thompson’s Station and how many times each had voted during his stay. Bell and Bethmann are relative newcomers, each having lived in town just two years. Bell stated he had voted in both elections while eligible and Bethmann said he had voted prior to enrolling in law school in Texas, but had been focused academically during that time.

Roberts is the longest standing town resident among the candidates, having lived in Thompson’s Station for 17 years. He said he has been an active voter throughout the time and has voted at every opportunity. Shepard said he has been in town for eight years and has voted in the last three elections.

The alderman candidates were next asked how their professional careers had prepared them to join the town’s board. Bell spoke first.

“I lived and worked in Memphis for years developing apartments and working on master plans throughout the country,” Bell said. “I have tools that are unique and my background in design gives me a vision for growth. I have experience with zoning ordinances and with subdivision standards, both of which areas need to be improved in Thompson’s Station.”

Bethmann said his work as a lawyer at a trust and investment company stands him in good stead as a potential alderman.

“I’m a fiduciary, which means I put my client’s needs ahead of my own and strive to be accountable,” Bethmann said. “Aldermen are not elected only to serve the part of town where they happen to reside. I get the concept of putting someone else’s interests ahead of my own and my work teaches me that.”

Roberts works as a certified public accountant and has long experience both owning and consulting with businesses.

“My experience in those capacities helping clients could help Thompson’s Station to attract the right kinds of businesses,” Roberts said.

Shepard didn’t hesitate to call himself the most qualified candidate in terms of both education and work experience. He holds master’s degrees in all of the following fields: information technology, business administration and political science.

“I’m a veteran of the US Army, and I’ve worked in the public sector, private sector and in non-profits,” Shepard said. “I’m now the finance manager at Nissan. The problems we face in Thompson’s Station will only become more complex as time goes by and education will be more and more important as we face those problems.”

Staff writer Greg Jinkerson covers Spring Hill for Home Page Media Group. Contact him at greg@springhillhomepage.com or follow him on Twitter @Greg_SHHP

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