There will be sweeping changes at McMinnville City Hall as three new aldermen were elected Tuesday night.
Leading the insurgence of new faces is local attorney Ben Newman who garnered 1,419 votes. This is his first run for office.
“One of the first things I would like to see done is getting the lights back on around the city,” Newman said, noting the decrease in number of street lights has been a negative for the city. “It was a horrible mistake for them to take them down in the first place.”
City fathers chose to remove large numbers of street lights thinking it would save the city money, however, the move turned out to be both controversial and unpopular.
Newman said it will be interesting working with both the new and old board members.
“I’m looking forward to working with these guys,” Newman said. “I think we have some fresh minds and we have a good place to build on to make our town what it needs to be.”
Taking second is perhaps the most persistent of the candidates as Jimmy Bonner Sr. finished with 1,303 votes.
Bonner served as alderman from 2000-04, but was defeated in his bid for re-election. He has run in every city election since that time. Bonner lost one of those bids by just three votes.
Bonner credited his election to hard work as he worked the early voting polls hard, even defying doctor’s orders by returning to the campaign trail just a couple of days after having surgery.
“My No. 1 goal is to see the city move forward,” Bonner said, noting he is happy to be returning to the board. “Second is to do the will of the people who voted me in. For No. 3, I’d really like to see the Park Theatre lit up again like it was when I was a child.”
Taking the final elected alderman spot was Mike Neal who pulled in 1,058 votes. While this will be his first term as alderman, Neal was elected as county commissioner for the 12th District in 1990.
Neal said one of his highest priorities is to make sure the city has open meetings and does not do things behind closed doors.
“I want open meetings,” Neal said, adding he also would like to see a fundamental change on the complexion of city government. “I would like to see the city go to a full-time mayor.”
Neal also wants the city to get out of the property business and sell any properties it is not using.
Finishing just out of the loop was incumbent alderman Everett Brock with 875 votes. He finished two votes better than Jason W. Gross who had 873 votes.
While neither were among the three elected, their finish could be key if the board decides to appoint the fourth highest vote-getter to fill the two years left on Jimmy Haley’s term. Since Haley won his bid for mayor, he will have to vacate his seat as alderman leaving it up to the board to name his replacement. While not required to take the fourth highest vote-getter, it is believed to be the most logical way to fill the spot.
At issue as the lights were turned off at the election office Tuesday night was whether Brock’s fourth-place finish will hold up. According to election administrator Donna Smith, there are 24 provisional ballots being held. Most of these are people who came to vote but did not have photo ID. If they come to the election office with ID, their votes will be counted. It is not known how many of the provisionals are city votes.
Meanwhile, the lone incumbent returned to office was Rick Barnes. However, it was not to his old seat. He defeated lone challenger Ryan Tackett 2,132 votes to 926. The race was for the two years left on the seat once held by Junior Medley who left office when he moved to Viola.
While Barnes was up for re-election this year, he opted to seek the two-year term instead of going for another four-year term.