By BROOKE WANSER
After unsuccessful runs for Nashville mayor in 2003, 2007 and 2015, Kenneth Eaton has leveled his sights on a target closer to home: the Williamson County mayor’s seat.
Though Eaton ran for Davidson County races in the past, he has maintained a Williamson County residence for 41 years.
Born and raised in Nashville, Eaton said he knew from childhood he wanted to be a businessman like his father, who ran a gasoline station and a car lot.
After graduating high school at age 18, Eaton dove straight into the business world, opening his first car lot.
Eventually, Eaton owned several car dealerships and used car lots, and accumulated over 100 pieces of rental property in the Nashville area.
Eaton said his interest in the realm of politics began in 2002, when he said Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell claimed his land, citing eminent domain laws.
An affordable housing project was built on the land, but Eaton said the unfairness of the situation stoked his interest in cutting down on what he terms “cronyism” and governmental waste.
A member of the Williamson and Davidson County Republican parties, Eaton was elected to serve as a delegate for Donald Trump to the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio.
In the county mayoral race, Eaton said he has three priorities: clean up the county budget by cutting wasteful spending, build and remodel county schools, and create infrastructure that is on pace with new developments.
‘The biggest problem that we have in Williamson County is infrastructure not put in place in developments that have already been built,” he said.
Eaton wants to ensure new developers not only build appropriate infrastructure, but that developers pay for it.
In cleaning up the county budget, Eaton feels confident he could cut between five to 10 percent of expenditures without firing any employees.
“I look at it like a business,” he said. “If any business has been in business quite some time, you start getting real lax on the expenses.”
One way to cut back, Eaton said, is by bidding out each county construction project. He believes some projects are simply given to companies with close ties to county government officials.
“A lot of the projects going out right now are a buddy buddy situation,” he said. “I call it cronyism.”
For schools, Eaton said he understands the need for more county schools, but doesn’t want to see any existing schools neglected.
Of the recent sales tax hike to fund new schools, Eaton said he thinks government officials should have cleaned up the budget before agreeing to send the issue to referendum.
“All of the money that the school system keeps getting for schools goes into new schools; therefore the old schools are being neglected,” he said. “If it was used in the right area, I’d agree to it.”
Though Eaton has called himself a budget hawk, and is against tax increases, he said there are exceptions.
“I’m against tax hikes, but I’m also one that understands when something needs to be done and you have taken all avenues that need to be taken, that is a last, last resort,” he said.
Education: No college, several certificates from business and accounting courses
Family: Wife, Toni, married 42 years. Two sons, Jim and Tommy, one grandchild.
Community involvement: Board member of the Tennessee Republican Party, Williamson County Republican Party, Davidson County Republican Party, National Automobile Dealers Association.
Address: 102 Beechlawn Drive, Franklin
Visit his website here.
The county Republican and Democratic primary is Tuesday, May 1 at regular polling locations.