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Elam, Dedman battling for top title
Apr 19, 2006 12:00 am
April 14, 2006 The race for county mayor may become a battle over fire service with Mt. Juliet Mayor Linda Elam challenging incumbent Robert Dedman.
One-time Republican State Senate candidate Phillip Warren withdrew Thursday saying the "focus" of the race changed.
Elam, a longtime proponent of county-sponsored fire protection, has said she is running based on the need for better fire service in West Wilson County as the area grows. Dedman, on the other hand, recently appointed a study committee to oversee renegotiations of a new contract, also based on growth.
"I believe it's going to be a more divisive campaign, more about a particular section of the county … rather than about the county, and I think the voters are going to have to really question the two candidates' qualifications," Warren said.
Dedman said he planned to run on his record, citing the jail addition, new schools and no hike in "taxes since 2001."
"I think, number one, the mayor in Mt. Juliet has gotten in because she wants the county to build them a fire station down there … and they don't want a city tax to do it," Dedman said.
Elam was more reserved, saying only she wished Warren well and planned to change nothing about her campaign.
"At the end of the day, what my campaign and this race is about is what's best for Wilson County," the Mt. Juliet mayor said. "I just want to say, again, what I do in my campaign to earn the trust and support of voters will not be determined by others in the race."
While commending Warren, neither Dedman nor Elam said his sudden departure from the race would change the issues they plan to run on.
"Well, we're still going to have to work real hard," Dedman said. "We always have. Every election, I've had I've had an opponent, so I've never had a free ride … We'll give it all we've got."
And Warren said he hopes the candidates will "offer a fresh vision for Wilson County and provide some new leadership.
"And I don't see the campaign going in that direction," he said.
"I think we need to look at the long-term growth plan for Wilson County," he said, adding nearly 50 percent of the county does not live within a municipality.
"The focus of the campaign has shifted, and I think it's shifted more toward our short-term rather than what the direction of the county needs to be," Warren said, "And I just came to the conclusion that continuing my campaign in this current environment wasn't the best thing to do."
Warren did not rule out running for office again, saying he wanted to stay involved in local issues.
"There's always another day," Warren said. "Politics changes often; there's a lot of opportunities. You don't have to run for office to make a difference. Running for office is just one aspect … and I definitely wouldn't rule it out. I'll definitely stay involved."
Staff Writer Jason Cox can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 45 or by e-mail at email@example.com.