By BROOKE WANSER
In District 9, which includes a swath of unincorporated Williamson County near Franklin, four candidates are running for two county commission seats.
While two have previous experience on the commission, two are newcomers, and all are Republicans.
The Williamson County primary election will be held on May 1, when voters will choose which candidates they want to be on the ballot for the general election on Aug. 2.
Todd Kaestner, incumbent
District 9 Commissioner Todd Kaestner has lived in the county since 2011, and is from Louisville, Kentucky.
Kaestner originally moved to Middle Tennessee to attend Vanderbilt University to study economics and business, Kaestner moved back to Louisville before returning to Nashville.
He became involved in local politics by successfully fighting against an “awful” residential development.
“There’s five reasons why people come to this county,” Kaestner said. “We have a small town feel and small town values. Two, we’ve got a lot of really cool green spaces. Three, it’s a safe place to live. Four, we’ve got low taxes, and five, we’ve got excellent schools,” he said.
Kaestner, who has three horses, four cows, two dogs and one cat, said he came for the green spaces.
He said his biggest reason for running is “making sure we don’t ruin one or more of the five great attractions of Williamson County.”
Schools, he said, are a big issue, as well as maintaining his beloved green spaces. “If we just keep doing everything we’re doing right now, in 20 years, we’ll look like North Atlanta.”
Residential development, Kaestner said, increases traffic, drives up the tax rate on existing residents and holds down the appreciation of existing homes by increasing their supply.
“That doesn’t mean I’m anti all development,” Kaestner insisted. “It means I’m for smart development.”
Occupation: Executive vice president of corporate development for Brookdale Senior Living, Inc.
Family: Wife, Susan, two daughters, ages 24 and 23.
Address: 3210 Del Rio Pike, Franklin
Visit his website here.
Chas Morton, a fifth-generation Williamson County resident, is somewhat of a hometown legend.
As a young swimmer and high school student at Battle Ground Academy, Morton set several of the most enduring national age-group records in the sport. He went on to compete and study public policy at Stanford University, before returning home to study law at Vanderbilt University.
Morton specializes in real estate, wills and small business law at PN+M Law in Franklin, which he helped found in 2001.
“I’ve seen growth on both sides,” Morton said, pointing to work with city and county government. “Having been involved, I’d always wanted to be involved in a greater extent with the public side.”
Morton said the time felt right to begin serving in the public sector, especially given the growth in recent years.
“It’s a linear growth, not an exponential growth,” he said.
His 22 year career involved with real estate development, “gives me a unique understanding and perspective on how we can move to find solutions,” Morton said.
As a small business owner, Morton said he understands the economic piece of the government puzzle, including maintaining the city’s high bond rating.
With twin third-graders at Pearre Creek Elementary, Morton and his wife have a firsthand glance into school struggles. “We’ve loved the experience our kids have had there, but we understand the challenges our schools face,” he said.
Occupation: Attorney for PN+M Law
Family: Wife, Christa, nine-year old twins Lilly and Chase
Address: 447 Wild Elm Street, Franklin
Visit his website here.
Though he has never run for public office before, as a retiree, Bob Peterman believes he can fully commit to the office.
His past includes work as a sales manager for Hewlett Packard and in medical technology, working with HCA and Community Health Systems.
Peterman began commuting to the Nashville area from Atlanta in the late 1980s, before moving to Franklin in 2004.
He became involved in county government when he worked to help keep Timberline Road from going through the massive Stephens Valley development.
Through the process, Peterman met Sherri Clark and Todd Kaestner, and he was invited to sit on the county’s traffic advisory panel for a two-year term. “I learned a great deal about road improvement,” he said.
When District 9 Commissioner Sherri Clark decided not to run for re-election, Peterman said she approached him, to run for her seat.
Of his top issues, Peterman said “The banner would be trying to balance growth with quality of life.”
He referenced the hundreds of millions in projected monetary needs for schools, and $380 million for county roads alone. “It’s a big nut, how do we best pay for it?” he said. “You can’t just load it all on property taxes or the new sales tax. It’s going to help a bit but it’s just temporary,” he said.
Peterman also said he wants to continue building solid relationships between the state, city and county.
Occupation: Retired, former sales manager with Hewlett Packard. President of the Temple Hills Links Homeowner’s Association.
Family: Wife, Debianne, has her Ph.D. in nursing. Three grown children
Address: 720 Wild Timber Court, Franklin
Visit his website here.
After being election in 2014, District 10 Commissioner Matt Williams resigned from the commission this January.
Williams’ father, well known general sessions court judge Ernie Williams, died in 2016, and Williams decided to move into his childhood home in District 9.
But he plans to continue a legacy of service begun by his parents; his mother, Nancy, was a county commissioner up until her death in 2002, at which time his father, took her place.
Williams was born and raised in Williamson County, attending Grassland Middle and Elementary schools and Battle Ground Academy, before graduating from the Naval Academy.
Commissioned as an officer in the marines, Williams received the rank of major after serving over seven years in the marines, deploying twice to Iraq.
With a mind towards service, Williams feels he has the relevant background and perspective to bring to the commission.
“Growing up around this with my parents, I bring an extreme amount of historical perspective to the how’s and why’s and who’s of the last twenty years,” he said.
Controlling growth, meeting infrastructure challenges, and protecting the community’s character are issues Williams intends to tackle, along with maintaining high school quality.
“The decisions that are going to happen it the next three to four years are going to prove critical to the trajectory of the next few decades,” he said, pointing to the schools.
He also means to work with the local preservation community. “It’s imperative to protect the nature of the community and the rural landscapes,” Williams said.
Occupation: Strategic sourcing manager with CoreTrust
Family: Wife, Heather, is a senior director of product management at Kroll. The couple has two boys, Ford, 3, and Jack, 1.
Address: 106 Kiln Hill Court, Franklin
Visit his website here.