Council Votes:  11/24/14 Mayor Vote/OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the November 24, 2014 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted at the city website as part of the December 2014 Regular Meeting Agenda packet.

Two separate meetings were held. The first meeting consisted of the outgoing council and approved outstanding past meeting minutes and allowed for special remarks by the outgoing members. The second meeting was comprised of the new council and included the swearing in of new members as well as the votes by council to appoint a new mayor and mayor pro tem. Regular business was suspended for this meeting.


Prior to voting, I asked the following questions of the mayoral candidates:

  1. Did you, any of your immediate family members or your affiliated businesses contribute financially, in any amount, to the Progress PAC? Hope, Gooch, Chinn & Smith all responded “NO”
  1. If you are a member of the Chamber of Commerce or if you have received their endorsement for your candidacy via their Progress PAC, will you recuse yourself from voting on the Chamber of Commerce contract when it comes up from renewal? Hope, Gooch, Chinn & Smith all responded “NO”
  1. Mayor or not, will you support the previous council’s decision to formally request a DOE Community Assistance Review as allowed within AECA 1955, PL 84-221, DOE Order 2100.12A? Hope, Gooch, Chinn & Smith all responded “YES”

Voting went six rounds. Rounds 1-5, the following occurred:

  • Gooch & Hensley voted for Gooch.
  • Baughn & Smith voted for Smith.
  • Hope & Callison voted for Hope.
  • Chinn voted for Chinn.

Public input was allowed after Round 4 (and contrary to what the city attorney tried to state at the onset). After Callison affirmed that he would change his vote, Round 6 produced the following votes:

  • Gooch, Chinn, Callison & Hensley voted for Gooch.
  • Baughn & Smith voted for Smith.
  • Hope voted for Hope.

Gooch is elected to Mayor.

Mayor Pro Tem was decided in one round of voting. After it was confirmed that Smith was the only council member to express interest in the position, the following occurred:

  • Smith, Baughn, Hope & Hensley voted for Smith.
  • Gooch & Chinn voted for Chinn.
  • Callison voted for himself.

Smith is elected to Mayor Pro Tem.

A great number of factors influenced my decision to vote for Ms. Smith.  I’ll touch on only those that are most appropriate for sharing publicly:  Ms. Smith did not vote for a tax increase during her five years on council and she has no ties that could be considered a conflict of interest. Mr. Hope voted for a tax increase in 2014 and voted to increase funding of the Chamber of Commerce in 2013.  My concerns about Mr. Chinn and Mr. Gooch originated with their campaign contributions and were confirmed in their votes for one another.

Oak Ridge City Council November 2014


  1. Thanks for the information. Up until this vote, I would have said you were a conservative. Now, with your support mainly going for liberals and against the true conservative (Chinn), I’m not at all sure. Most liberals have never seen a tax they didn’t like. And, I can see Smith pushing for Green this and Green that and reducing carbon emissions and reducing climate change and all that other EPA rot. I don’t see us getting any debt reduction with the leadership that you apparently support.

    1. No question, in my view, that there will be a very large property tax increase in 2015. With the exception of Chinn, the newly elected council members will make sure of that. This does not bode well for OR. It’s too late to hold onto your wallet, but the voters have spoken and OR will continue it’s downward spiral. Kinda’ sad.

  2. What do you mean by “My concerns about Mr. Chinn and Mr. Gooch originated with their campaign contributions”? I’m not following.

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