The water quality in Williamson County is just fine, despite the number of times people from other parts of Tennessee ask me: “What’s in the water there?”
To be clear, it’s not the Harpeth River about which they speak. It’s our elected officials.
Just a few weeks ago, on Jan. 19, the Williamson Home Page reported District One County Commissioner Dwight “Bubba” Jones was arrested by Fairview police on charges of domestic violence and interfering with a 911 call.
According the incident report, Jones hit a female friend in the face knocking her down, threw lit candles at the wall, and lay on top of her, telling her he would burn the house down with her in it.
The woman also reported he told her he wouldn’t get in trouble because — and here’s the rub: “he knows everyone” and that she should be scared.
He was released on a measly $2000 bond.
I can’t blame Mr. Jones for assuming his elected office protects him from ramifications, for those in higher positions than him have made crude and sometimes illegal behavior appear acceptable.
For those with short memories, I give you former Tennessee Speaker of the House of Representatives, our own District 63 Rep. Glen Casada.
Casada received a vote of no confidence from his own Republican caucus just four months after capping his 18 years in office by ascending to the third most powerful position in Tennessee. He stepped down after a frenetic period of media coverage which revealed Casada had exchanged sexually inappropriate texts with his chief of staff, allegedly bugged the offices of legislative opponents, spent taxpayer money to remodel his office and lied about that and more publicly.
A few years ago, the Tennessee Attorney General expelled then District 65 Rep. Jeremy Durham from the legislative office building, stating in a memo, "Representative Durham's alleged behavior may pose a continuing risk to unsuspecting women who are employed by or interact with the Legislature.” He was ultimately expelled from the legislature entirely for financial malfeasance. (Editor’s note: The writer was the Democratic nominee for House District 65 in 2016, the year Durham was expelled.)
The common denominator among the three, besides being elected, is their political party. They are all Republicans, though it must be said that in Williamson County, the electorate skews Republican overall.
Bad behavior isn’t limited to one party but the GOP supermajority in the legislature and lock on elected offices in Williamson County — there isn’t one Democrat in office here — brings to mind the saying: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
I know there are good and decent Republicans here. Sam Whitson, who ultimately defeated both Durham in the 2016 primary and me in the general election, is one. He was the among the first to call on Casada to step down from leadership.
But to use another familiar saying, a few bad apples can spoil the lot, and the antics of Casada and Jones give the impression to outsiders that while we are an affluent and well-educated bunch, we are also sexist, insensitive, crooked and at times, violent.
With those we choose to represent us behaving so badly, who can blame others for thinking that? As long as we vote for Casada and Jones, we are complicit in their behavior.
We are long overdue for change. For the last 20 years, the Republican Party has held a strangle grip on Williamson County and for the last 10, the state. I call on the Williamson County Republican Party to censure the officials who have blackened our reputation; on good people to run for office against those who do; and for voters here to take a chance on Democratic candidates to restore a balance to power.
Holly McCall is a former journalist and communications consultant. A native of Franklin, she ran for the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2016. She's currently working on Michael Bloomberg's presidential campaign.