Spirited Races Emerge for City Council

As Thursday's deadline to qualify for a City Council seat approached, there was a flurry of activity with several new candidates emerging. Former state Sen. Bill Owen will not get a free ride with only token opposition from Buck Cochran. Marshall Stair has turned in a petition for Seat B at-large as well. Stair, a downtown resident, is the scion of a prominent Sequoyah Hills family and will be able to raise plenty of money. He may have been prompted to get involved in city government after the housing for the homeless plan raised so much controversy. A proposal to build such housing at Lakeshore Park angered park supporters like Tom McAdams and his law partner, Marshall's father Caesar. That duo will likely be available for fund-raising. (Owen also opposed the scattered-site housing for the homeless.)

Finbarr Saunders is believed to have been defeated for reelection to County Commission because he did not actively oppose the homeless housing initiative, and it was exploited by now-Commissioner Jeff Ownby. Saunders has now picked up an opponent for the Seat C City Council race in the person of Ron Peabody, the leader of the anti-homeless plan efforts. Peabody is being supported by Ruthie Kulhman, who was defeated by Saunders for County Commission but who led efforts to elect Ownby and defeat Saunders. So Seat B and Seat C will likely be spirited races.

In Seat A, George Wallace and John Stancil have picked up additional opponents in Michael McBath and Hubert Smith. Smith is a longtime local radio journalist, hosting a community broadcasting show since 1996; he currently hosts One on One on WUTK. He ran for City Council in 2003. He also teaches a class in radio journalism at UT. McBath ran for county mayor last year and lost to Ezra Maize in the Democratic primary.