It’s official: Farragut Alderman Robert “Bob” Markli is running for Town mayor.
He will challenge fellow Alderman and mayoral candidate Ron Williams. After early voting, the Town’s non-partisan Election Day is Tuesday, Aug. 2.
Markli spoke to the Farragut Gun Club during its Monday evening, April 9 meeting in Rosarita’s Mexican Cantina.
Markli read a statement indicating he had intended to leave Town politics after nine years as Alderman.
“At first, I felt confident stepping aside and leaving the town in their capable hands,” he read. “It wasn’t until the week before the qualifying deadline … the following unsettling reality sunk in: mayor and two alderman positions open and unopposed.
“What this means… is that a fourth member would then be appointed by the new Board to fill Alderman Williams’ unexpired term, thus comprising a new Board with four out of five of its members, for all intents and purposes unelected, and the fifth not having yet filled even a single full term.
“It struck me that this is not the right time to abandon the town I have loved and served and that if I were to run successfully, it would mean that Alderman Williams, Alderman (Ron) Pinchok and Alderman (Louise) Povlin all kept their duly elected seats,” he added. “We (would) welcome Scott Meyer as an unopposed new member of the Board, and the combined years of experience … would be far more than doubled.
“This, coupled with the fact that there are some serious issues facing this new Board, some unfinished business needing attention, and in the interest of continuity and preserving the hard-won progress the town has made, my choice was suddenly very clear.”
As a long-time builder, Markli said dealing with Town codes officials, beginning about 30 years ago, at times seemed “capricious and arbitrary.”
Markli said his “keen sense of justice” told him “the Town deserves better than this,” and, even though some issues were discussed and reviewed by Town officials, “nothing really changed.”
“I [finally] decided this was my Town, and knew something had to be done,” and nine years ago, decided to seek office after “the Mayor (Ralph McGill), aldermen and other citizens practically begged me to run.”
Markli also described himself as sometimes being “a lonely guy” on the Board. “When there are 4-1 votes [on several key issues], I am usually the ‘1.’”
After reading his statement, Markli said he “would not support a Town property tax under any circumstances,” and some of his key focal issues would include public safety and the Town’s parks and recreational offerings.
He also spoke against the long-discussed hotel/motel tax, which he has publicly opposed since the beginning, always being the “1” on the Board.
“It will take away what little edge our (hoteliers) enjoy,” he said, noting the lower taxes visitors currently pay in Town hotels and motels as compared to neighboring cities and counties.
“I will get on my soapbox,” Markli said. “I think [the proposed tax] is an absolute disaster.
“If we give away that little edge, we will be just another stop on the Interstate,” he added.
Markli also addressed a query regarding the future of the Campbell Station Inn.
“We are looking (at) what we can preserve for our citizens,” Markli said. “It might be a good location for the (Town) museum, or a visitors center, or maybe there will be some partnership [with another entity to make use of it]. But (we) know we have to save it.”
Markli also said he would be willing to entertain an option to allow licensed concealed weapon carriers in Town Hall.
“That sticker we have, stating Town Hall is a gun-free zone, (makes us) a soft target,” he said. “It (also) tells people ‘you don’t have the right to defend yourself, and we aren’t going to protect you.’
“If elected mayor, I will scrape off that sticker myself.”
Williams, who had announced his candidacy late last year, said in a written statement he had received a “courtesy call from Alderman Markli Friday, (April 6) to let me know that he had submitted his petition to run for Mayor.
“We had a conversation on running a clean gentlemen’s race that will be decided by what the Farragut residents want for their fourth mayor,” Williams added.