Mt. Juliet Vice-Mayor James Maness has announced he is a candidate to become the city’s next mayor, and city commissioner Ray Justice said he will pray about seeking the position or run for re-election for his District 1 seat in November.
Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty announced last week he would not seek a third term.
Monday was the first day candidates could pick up petitions for the seat, according to Wilson County Administrator of Elections Phillip Warren. The qualifying deadline is Thursday, Aug. 20 at noon. Petitions must have at least 25 signatures of support.
Prior to Hagerty’s announcement, Maness, also the District 2 commissioner, made it known he would run for the mayoral seat even if Hagerty ran for re-election. Maness’ seat was the only one on the five-member commission not up for re-election this year. His seat will be up in 2022.
Maness publicly announced his intention to run last Saturday morning in front of the Mt. Juliet Police Department. He was elected District 2 commissioner in November of 2010 and was appointed vice-mayor in April of 2011.
“I was already going to run against Ed Hagerty,” Maness said. “I think it is fair to say Ed has twice the legacy and he will leave his mark on Mt. Juliet in accomplishments.”
Maness and Hagerty disagreed on issues occasionally.
“We’ve had differences of opinions over emergency services and first responders,” said Maness. “The main thing is we were mostly close on our positions.”
Maness said if he is elected, he will follow through on transportation projects like Golden Bear Parkway and Old Lebanon Dirt Road, completing the Central Pike Interchange and managing traffic control.
Justice has filed financial forms with the county election commission in preparation to seek another term as commissioner. However, he told the Wilson Post last week he will, “be thinking and praying and talking to friends and family,” about making a bid for the mayor’s job.
“I will be debating this and trying to figure it out,” he said.
Justice said when Hagerty’s announcement was released his “phone started blowing up” from people supporting him to run for mayor.
“That was really appreciated,” he said. “The role of commissioner takes a toll on you and your family. The mayor’s role is the same toll.”
Justice said he’s had some disagreements with Hagerty through the years.
“We were elected together in 2000, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for him,” he said. “He nor I never lost sight of our ultimate goal to make our city better. How we approached it was just different.”
Art Giles (District 3) and Jennifer Milele (District 4) have confirmed they will both be on the ballot in November for those seats.
Hagerty was a Mt. Juliet commissioner for a decade and appointed mayor in April 2011, when then-Mayor Linda Elam left office to run for House of Representatives. Hagerty then was elected to two four years terms.
Hagerty said he’s had hundreds of citizens urge him to seek re-election this year. He said he felt he’s spent the “proper length of time to serve in one role as a public servant.”
“Clearly, when I came into office there was dissention on the commission,” he said. “I believe there is now unity and we are all on the same page. I also believe we as a commission have raised the bar here in many ways with our development standards. At one point, we were the land of metal buildings with brick fronts.”
The next chapter for Hagerty will have him as an “active person in the political arena in some way.” He also wants to spend more time with his grandchildren and travel.
“The church and home school are my passions,” he said. “I will find a role.”