The town of Wartrace residents are looking at a potentially tight race between two mayoral candidates.
The mayoral race is the only one with some competition between candidates. Current Wartrace aldermen Brian Ross and Allan Tabit are both looking to clean up and develop downtown as well as tackle some tough water issues.
Ross said he decided to step up and run for mayor when other aldermen, at the time, didn’t express interest. “I want to make sure our town looks good. I want to make sure our businesses are thriving, and that we as the town can support residents,” he said.
Raised in Fairview, Ross has lived in Wartrace for 5 years and served as public works chair for over 4. By profession, he’s a tech coordinator. “Our current staff is outstanding in professional, but one thing I want to bring is process improvement and project management.”
He added, “I’m not a politician. I don’t declare a side. There’s enough divisiveness in our country; I’m not going to divide our town . . . . I want to be more personable rather than a politician.”
The population of Wartrace is around 680. Within the last aldermen election, Ross said out of the four aldermen candidates, the top candidate received almost 200 votes (with voters voting for three candidates) out of a potential 300 registered voters. Ross said he hopes to see high numbers like this again.
Tabit added that he’d like to those numbers change. “Get these people realizing, you’ve got to support the community.”
And they probably will this election as many residents are opposing rising water costs.
“The current theme is water,” said Ross. “Our current mayor, Cindy Drake, has done an outstanding job maintaining our system and we just need to continue that. We want to find the perfect balance between cost for the residents and maintenance.”
Tabit, who is finishing up his first term as alderman, said he decided to take the “jump” for mayor. “I’m not afraid to speak up.”
In addition to addressing the water issue, Tabit said he hopes to tackle other everyday issues, like bringing back garbage pick-up (which was taken down since the current administration said they no longer had the funds to carry it out.)
Tabit also wants to help with attracting business to the square to bring Wartrace back to where it used to be. “I’m not trying to make Shelbyville or Murfreesboro out of it. I just want to make sure we bring things up to standard, like our water department,” he said.
A retired pipeline engineer for a natural gas company, Tabit moved to Tennessee in 1994 and then to Wartrace in 2005, seeking the quiet of a rural area after living in the hustle and bustle of a city. Tabit also had a home remodeling business in the early 2000s.
Tabit said he would like to see funds-those from the infrastructure state grant Wartrace recently applied for-used strictly for the water department.
Tabit added that he would also like to see communication increased among the community. “With any kind of community, you have people saying things, but they won’t show up to a meeting,” he said.
On the other hand, candidates running for aldermen are shoe-ins. But they still are excited to help Wartrace grow as well as help with these water issues.
Shelia LeDere owns the Old Petticoat and Seven on Main, two boutiques in Wartrace’s downtown. Growing these businesses has given her a good foundation for wanting to see Wartrace grow.
Though originally from Nashville, LeDere adheres to her family’s roots in the surrounding area, like Chapel Hill.
“It comes from a passion to see it grow,” said LeDere. “There’s a lot of newcomers in the area...I want to be a part of the growth I see coming because I think it might be phenomenal.”
But she emphasizes the want to keep Wartrace unique. “I want to preserve the history of the cowboys, the trains, the horses--I love all that and that’s what drew me to Wartrace. I think some people have the mindset we’re trying to change it but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
“People don’t understand what’s going on because they don’t get involved; they don’t come to the town hall meetings, so they’re making assumptions. If they come to the meetings, they will see transparency,” she said.
Doing just that—getting involved in the community—is what encouraged Stacy Roach to also run for alderman.
Roach has lived in Bedford County her entire life, living in Wartrace for the past 5 years. After attending several town meetings, Roach said she left with a want to help her town.
“I feel it is important for those in the community to get involved and have an input on what we bring to our town. I love Wartrace and want what’s best for our community,” she said. “I always say, ‘you can’t complain about it unless you become part of the solution.’”
Roach is project coordinator for Curl Construction & Excavating, LLC. As alderman, she said she hopes to not base decisions on what bigger cities around us are doing. “Yes, every town needs some growth; however, you can’t compare our future growth to surrounding counties,” she said.
Talking with residents, with their concerns centered around the water system issues and trash pick-up, Roach added, “I do feel we have a lot of people motivated to vote, which is great!”