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Dirty politics suspected in move to end Lebanon mayors job

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An effort to end the structure of Lebanons current city government, removing the provision for a fulltime mayor, will be the principle topic at an open forum next Tuesday night.

A public hearing on the resolution proposed by the city council has been scheduled for Sept. 20, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The hearing, to be held in the council chambers at Lebanons City Hall, is to provide an opportunity for the general public to offer its opinion on the proposed change in government.

A number of local business people and members of the community have indicated that they are outraged about the proposed change in the operation of city government saying it appears to be a matter of bad politics and is an action being taken that deserves the input of all citizens.

Several have said that a change of such significance should be placed on a referendum ballot and approved by city voters.

I think its dirty, dirty politics, said Michael Islip, an owner of Michaels Cover-up, an upholstery shop on Lebanons Public Square.

He said he was completely opposed to the move being suggested by some on the city council, adding that its a hidden agenda thing.

Islip said he will be at the meeting next Tuesday night and will express his views and will be particularly vocal about the council trying to push this through without letting the people decide.

Kathy Adams, who lives on West Main Street and has been a lifelong resident of Lebanon, said she believes the proposition of ending the fulltime mayor position and hiring a city manager is something that deserves study but something that also deserves a full hearing before the community.

Adams suggested that the council should not act so hastily and said that perhaps a citizen committee should be appointed to study the issue so as to remove the appearance of politics being involved.

A Lebanon bank executive, who spoke to The Wilson Post on the condition of anonymity, said I have talked with a number of people since this (the proposed resolution) was made public and everyone I have spoken with says its just politics.

Im not necessarily a Craighead supporter but I am a supporter of having a fulltime mayor. I think you can look at a number of places with a city manager and see that they have their own problems. Look at Mt. Juliet for instance. They have a city manager and they too have problems, he said.

Mayor Philip Craighead and several members of the city council have openly quarreled since Craighead was elected to office some three years ago.

Craighead defeated William Farmer in the last mayoral election in 2008. Farmer had been a former Lebanon city attorney and at the time was a member of the city council.

There was essentially no honeymoon following the 2008 election between Craighead and members of the city council.

The mayoral election was a bitter contest between the two candidates and left a number of deep wounds between members of the council who supported Farmer and Craighead.

Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath, who is one member of the council pushing the change in government, has opposed Craighead politically for sometime. They first became political foes when Craighead ran a write-in campaign against her in a race for the city council.

She and council members Alex Buhler of Ward 1 and Kevin Huddleston of Ward 2 have been crossed with Craighead since he first took office as mayor.

Warmath and Buhler most recently criticized Craighead for an annual rodeo he oversees with a group of citizen volunteers. Profits realized from the rodeo are distributed to local nonprofit agencies and organizations.

By SAM HATCHER, The Wilson Post / shatcher@wilsonpost.com.

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