The House District 50 seat is open for the first time in at least 28 years, but the two men competing for it are no rookies when it comes to campaigning, reports the Tennessean. Democrat Tim Garrett represented the district in the General Assembly for 20 years until Gary Moore unseated him in a primary fight and went on to win the seat in 2004, starting an eight-year run that will end soon with Moore’s retirement.
Now Democrat Bo Mitchell, who has served with Garrett in the Metro Council since 2007, and Republican Charles Williamson, who unsuccessfully sought a different legislative seat two years ago, are vying to represent the area stretching from Goodlettsville to Bellevue.
The race has taken on a negative tone lately, with Mitchell hammering at Williamson’s residency issues and Williamson saying in a news release that Mitchell, although welcome to attend a recent campaign bean supper, “may already be full of beans.”
Mitchell, director of sales for Health Cost Solutions, previously worked for former Gov. Phil Bredesen as director of community affairs and ran the state Senate’s Government Operations Committee while working for former Sen. Pete Springer.
House District 50 candidate Charles Williamson has told Metro Codes that he’s dropping his attempt to use a Goodlettsville barn as a qualification for his residence in the district after city officials told him he couldn’t legally live there without making major changes, reports Chas Sisk. In a letter dated Sept. 19 and obtained by The Tennessean through a public records request, Williamson said he has moved from the barn property, at 2360 Baker Road, and doesn’t “have any intention to use this building as my residence.” While the Republican candidate recently bought a home elsewhere in the district, he continues to own a much more expensive home on the other side of town, raising questions about where he really lives.
“My opponent seems to be looking for a place to call home,” said Metro Councilman Bo Mitchell, the Democratic nominee for the District 50 seat. “When he’s going door to door in Bellevue, he’s from Bellevue. When he’s going door to door in Goodlettsville, he’s from Goodlettsville.”
The Tennessean reported in July that no occupancy permit had been issued for Williamson’s Baker Road property, which he listed as his residence when he registered to vote and when he filed his candidate qualifying petition earlier this year.
Williamson subsequently applied for an occupancy permit, but the renovated barn is at least partially in what Metro Water Services categorizes as an unstudied flood zone. That means a surveyor needs to determine if the barn is at least four feet above flood levels before a permit can be issued. Williamson also would have had to install an expanded septic system to obtain the Metro Public Health Department’s approval for a residence.
“It really was just too great of a distraction while trying to run a campaign,” said Claire Ratliff, Williamson’s campaign manager.
Tennessee Republicans think they can turn yet another state House seat their way this year in a district stretching from Goodlettsville to Bellevue, reports the Tennessean. But Democrats believe they have a strong candidate to keep the District 50 seat in Metro Councilman Bo Mitchell, who will face one of three relative newcomers from the GOP ranks. Democratic state Rep. Gary Moore, a union advocate like Mitchell, is retiring after representing the district for eight years.
Early voting starts today. Mitchell, 41, is running unopposed on the Democratic side. The Republican race features Dwight “DJ” Farris, a 25-year-old Realtor; Dave Hall, 24, who works with data for Wyndham Resorts; and Charles Williamson, 51, a geologist, business owner and bison rancher.
…Both Williamson and Hall ran for House seats in 2010, while Farris is making his first bid for public office. Williamson lost to state Rep. Mike Turner of Old Hickory in District 51. Hall was the Republican nominee in District 50. He drew more than 42 percent of the vote but couldn’t unseat Moore.
Moore made an issue two years ago of the fact that Hall lived with his parents, which still appears to be the case. Hall and his father, Senate District 20 candidate David Hall, listed the same address and phone number when they qualified to run in April.
Hall said he’s legally old enough to run and that he would focus on cutting taxes, confronting illegal immigration and communicating with the people he hopes to represent.
“If you’re here illegally, we need to deport you,” he said. “We need you to come here through the proper channels.”
Farris, who said he closed his first real estate deal when he was a 20-year-old sophomore at Lipscomb University, said he would work to reduce regulations on businesses and create an environment that encourages student achievement and rewards successful teachers.
“People are ready to see someone that’s focused on creating jobs,” he said. “They understand that government does best when it gets out of the way of small business.”
Farris has been endorsed by Tennessee Right to Life, a pro-life group.
Williamson did not return two phone calls or an email seeking an interview this week. In a response to a request for basic information last month, he wrote that he decided to run because “I want to give back in a meaningful way and represent my neighbors with common sense leadership and a sincere willingness to work across party lines for solutions that keep Tennessee vibrant and strong.”