By LANDON WOODROOF
The Williamson County Primary Election will be held on May 1. This is the day that Williamson County voters will choose which County Commission candidates they want to be on the ballot for the County General Election, which will be held on Aug. 2.
Each of Williamson County’s 12 districts has two county commissioners representing it. If a political party has two or fewer County Commission candidates affiliated with it in a particular district, those candidates will automatically get through the primary stage and on to the general election ballot.
County Commissioners serve four-year terms.
Today we look at the candidates for Williamson County Commission District five.
Tommy Little, an accountant with Uniguest, was first elected to the County Commission in 2006. During his 12 years on the commission, he has served on every possible committee and chaired several of them, he said, including the budget committee. He is currently serving as Chairman Pro Tempore of the commission.
That type of public service to Williamson County runs in Little’s family. His grandfather was an elected Williamson Count official for 24 years and his father served as a county commissioner for 36 years. Little has lived in Williamson County his whole life.
Little is running for another term in office because he wants to continue the work he has done so far on the County Commission.
“We’ve started with all the school building, and we have other capital needs we need to address, so I feel like I have some unfinished business I’d like to keep working on,” Little said.
While Little sees the need to address infrastructure challenges at numerous Williamson County locations, including the county jail and the juvenile court, he said that schools are his first priority.
“It’s the engine that drives our economy,” he said. “I’ve always been very pro-school. I’ve been a volunteer at Page High School for 22 years now.”
Little’s kids attended Page High years ago.
Little lives in Triune with his wife, Beverly. He has four grown children, Wesley, Vance, Erica and Kirsta, and four grandchildren.
He is running as a Republican.
Beth Lothers may have close to a decade’s worth of experience in public office, but that does not mean that she is a fan of politics.
“I never liked politics, but I like public service,” she said. “That’s been a challenge to have the one in order to do the other.”
Lothers first assumed an elected office in 2006, when she filled an opening on Nolensville’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen for nine months. When her term was up, Lothers decided to run for mayor. She was elected and served in that capacity from January 2007 to January 2011.
“In four years we worked our hearts out,” she said. “We formed the Town Events Committee, the Economic Development Committee, the Trees and Trails Committee.”
As mayor, Lothers also spearheaded the construction of Nolensville’s new Town Hall and presided over a $1.6 million Rocky Ford Road realignment project.
Rather than seek another term as mayor, Lothers chose to run for the position of alderman.
This term in office saw Lothers write numerous grants that eventually brought the town funding for its Small Town Connections trail system and its Safe Routes to School program. One of the main components of the Small Town Connections project, a bridge across Mill Creek in the town’s Historic District, was recently named the Beth Lothers Bridge.
Lothers was appointed to the County Commission in November following the death of longtime County Commissioner Lew Green. His legacy fuels her current run for a full County Commission term.
“I’m running for County Commission to carry on Lew Green’s legacy for District Five of active representation,” she said.
She is especially passionate about promoting and preserving communities’ historic assets in the face of growth.
“I have experience with controlled growth initiatives so that a community can decide how they grow and what they look like,” she said.
Her love of history is evident in her current role researching and writing a book about Historic Nolensville.
A 21-year resident of Williamson County, Lothers is married to Ted, a structural engineer and Operation Desert Storm veteran. They have two children: Jacob, 21, a college student in North Carolina, and Corinne, 17, a senior at Ravenwood High School. They also have a dog, Snowball, 11.
Lothers is running as a Republican.
Robert Verell has lived in Williamson County since 2005 and in Nolensville from 2007, but his calling for public service stretches back before then to the community of Houston, Mississippi where he grew up.
“In my family, my father and my grandfather were volunteers for public service,” he said. “My father was in the Marines and my grandfather was the mayor of the small town I’m from…and I want to give back in that same manner.”
Verell has not served in public office before, but he does have some experience serving in local organizations, like the Ballenger Farms Homeowners Association in Nolensville.
Verell identified a couple of main issues he hopes to focus on if he is elected.
The first has to do with growth.
“I want to manage growth better than we currently are,” he said. “It’s gotten us into many hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of debt.”
Despite taking on all that debt, Verell said county students are still forced to attend class in overflow classrooms.
“We’re working to remedy that, but I’d like to prevent us from having to resort to those kinds of things” in the first place, Verell said.
Verell’s other main issue has to do with citizen participation in government.
“I want to see more community involvement,” he said.
To try to increase engagement, Verell wants to have monthly meetings with constituents if elected, where county residents can talk about their concerns and ask him questions.
Verell does database administration and engineering work for RDX. He has been married to his wife, Lisa, for 10 years. They have two children, Hailey, 4, and Jasper, 2.
Verell is running as a Republican.
Craig Zimberg has had a varied career, from his three years of active duty service in the United States Army starting when he was 17 years old to his present career as the head of internal auditing at BMI.
“I’m running just because I feel it’s important to serve,” he said.
Zimberg previously sat on the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County’s Information Security Advisory Board, but this will be his first run for public office.
He hopes to put his professional experience to good use on the County Commission in order to ensure the county’s financial stability.
Zimberg said the main issue he is running on is “ensuring that we have set ourselves up financially to continue to be the great place we are today.”
A big part of that is ensuring that county schools can keep up with growth.
“Schools are always a big focus for everyone,” he said. “I think that’s why most of us moved into Williamson County, for schools.”
While he agrees with some recent moves the County Commission has made, he thinks that the county should focus on longer-term fixes to its problems.
“Things like the sales tax that just passed are part of the solution but not necessarily the full solution,” he said. “I want to make sure we have full solutions to the problem and not just…little Band-Aids along the way.”
Zimberg has two children, Bella, 16, a junior at Ravenwood High School, and Jack, 12, a sixth-grader at Sunset Middle School.
Zimberg is running as a Democrat, but said that party affiliation would not define his run.
“I think the key there is that on the County Commission level it really shouldn’t matter so much whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican,” he said. “I think both sides want good schools.”