Williams refutes ‘untrue opinions’

Markli’s positions on Hotel/Motel Tax, Second Amendment find voices as Farragut Gun Club hosts Town mayoral candidates

After a roughly four-and-a-half minute condensed biography, mainly about his professional and political career, Alderman Ron Williams wanted to get something off his chest during his address to Farragut Gun Club.

“At this particular time I’m going to do something a little bit different — I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: I’m going to take this opportunity to defend myself against a bunch of untrue opinions by people who don’t even know my background, and who don’t even bother to ask me, yet they’re going to print stuff and put ads out there,” Williams, a mayoral candidate, said to FGC members in Rosarito’s Mexican Cantina during the club’s monthly meeting Monday evening, July 9.

Saying he’s been unfairly labeled “pro-bureaucracy,” Williams explained the Town needs to employ “a lobbyist” to act on Farragut’s behalf with Tennessee General Assembly in Nashville.

“Our administration and staff, including our mayor and aldermen, do not have time to camp out in Nashville,” he added. “… We still have to have what they call a lobbyist. … I voted to continue to employ a local lobby group. … Most small towns do have lobbyists to protect our interests.

“Because of that, I’ve now been labeled ‘pro-lobbyist.’”

Saying he’s helped lead the way in attempting to contact the Town’s hotel and motel managers to discuss ways to promote tourism, Williams said 38 years without a Farragut property tax “is a point of pride for our Town.”

However, “without a interview or asking me my position, articles have been written and ads have been placed saying that I was pro-property tax,” he said.

About his support for a 2.5 percent Hotel/Motel Tax, the nine hotels in Farragut “pay 5 percent to Knox County right now,” Williams said. “Then you go into the City (of Knoxville), and it’s 5 percent plus 3 more percent. … What (our 2.5 percent) is to try and get more businesses involved. … If you want to increase retail business, you’ve got to have the money, and that’s one way to do it. And it’s the way that everybody else is doing it.”

About Farragut’s hotel and motel management being unresponsive to sitting down and talking about Farragut tourism growth, “When I called them to set up an appointment, two of them actually took my call and the other seven didn’t,” he said. “So I thought, ‘well, I’ll drop in on them.’ None of them would see me. And I wasn’t even talking about a Hotel/Motel Tax.”

A meeting between Town officials and Farragut hotels and motel managers, “the first meeting we’ve had” according to Williams, took place Tuesday, July 10.

Moreover, “according to the hotels and the people who wrote the articles that sent in to the newspaper, we don’t have anything in Farragut to entice them in here,” Williams said. “I disagree with that. We’ve got fine lakes, we’ve got ballfields, we’ve got Turkey Creek.”

A FGC member said about opposition to the Hotel/Motel Tax, “we believe if you give business people low taxes, it will create a vacuum and bring business in.”

Williams said, “I don’t want any taxes, either. I don’t want a (Town) property tax. We don’t need that.”

About his stance on gun rights in connection with the ability to carry a licensed firearm (having obtained a carry permit) into Farragut Town Hall, Williams said that decision should be left up to those who most often occupy this government facility.

“I support conducting a poll with Town employees and their spouses, museum workers and all the Knox County staff people that work upstairs, and also the parents of kids that display art in our rotunda, and the folks who do business in Town Hall,” he said. “Whatever they say they want, then that’s what we’ll do.

“I support a monitored camera system in Town Hall,” he added. “I also support (special) door locks. I’d like to see an S-front glass shield. And right now we have a police officer in all our (Board of Mayor and Aldermen) meetings.”

Alderman and fellow mayoral candidate Robert “Bob” Markli, who also attended the meeting, asked Williams, “So, the Town employees decided whether or not we have Second Amendment rights if I understand correctly?”

“I listen to the people, I have to,” Williams replied, adding about the firearm carry permit issue, “I’m not out there waving a flag like some people are.”

A handful of FGC members took issue with Williams’ stance, with one pointing to Markli on the same issue and saying, “This man is behind gun owners, the Second Amendment; he stands up and waves the flag. I know I can count on him. It makes me very nervous for (Williams) to say ‘it’s up to the employees.’”

“That’s not much of a Second Amendment advocate in my book,” another FGC member said.

Markli said to the gathering in a short address about the Second Amendment, “… If everybody in Farragut said, ‘we don’t like guns and we don’t think you should carry them,’ the Constitution guarantees me that right.”