CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – With two council members absent and one seat vacant, City Council members were unable to come to a consensus in selecting someone to fill the Ward 11 seat Tuesday afternoon at a special called session, instead deciding to call a recess until next Wednesday.
The council met to decide which of five applicants would be selected to fill the unexpired term of council member Ashlee Evans, who resigned her seat in February.
The council narrowed its selection to either Joe Shakeenab or Ricky Reda; however, they were unable to come a majority between the two. The appointment of a City Council member requires a majority of the whole council, meaning seven votes.
Two council members being absent –Brian Zacharias and Wallace Redd – combined with the empty Ward 11 seat, left a slim margin for disagreement. After a brief debate, the vote remained split 6-4 in Shakeenab’s favor, one short of what’s needed to clinch the seat.
A developer or a civil servant
The backbone of the debate between the two candidates was whether it is better to have the experience of a longtime civil servant or a seasoned real estate developer.
“My vote simply comes down to where we are in Clarksville’s history,” Vondell Richmond said during the meeting. “One of the biggest needs I see throughout the city is infrastructure. … In terms of what the city needs right now, we need to get through this real estate debacle, and I believe Mr. Reda is one of the leaders that can get us there.”
Council member Wanda Smith suggested during the meeting that a developer might struggle to separate their service from the profession, and that a long time civil servant such as Shakeenab would be the preferable choice.
“The reason I want to vote for Shakeenab, this man is open-minded, he is passionate about community and people, and he’s not trying to get on here to sell houses. He’s not trying to get on here to make money,” Smith said during the meeting. “I think there’s a thin line between a builder, a contractor, a businessperson and a conflict of interest.”
Recess till next week
The Council decided to recess until all members can be present. They will meet again on Wednesday, March 16, at 5:30 p.m. to make their decision. According to comments made by City Attorney Lance Baker, the city is obligated to fill the seat by the 17th.
Both remaining applicants told Clarksville Now they supported the decision to recess.
“I think it’s a good call. We’re missing some of the council today, and I think we need a …….