Bartlett keeps mayor, Lakeland votes in new one

Unofficial Nov. 6 election results from the Shelby County Election Commission show that Bartlett’s current mayor won another term, Lakeland’s mayor was defeated, and other races had a mixed bag of results.

Important note: All the following results are unofficial, based on the latest available information from the Shelby County Election Commission at press time on Tuesday. Early voting and absentee results were included. (See our story on Page 3 for an update about provisional ballots.) See additional election unofficial results online at

Bartlett Mayor

Incumbent A. Keith McDonald defeated challenger John Lackey, 18,967 to 3,405 votes. There also were 81 write-in votes.

McDonald, who has been Bartlett’s mayor since Jan. 1, 2003, said, “I am humbled and grateful for the chance to continue leading this great city. There is much to be done.”

His campaign strategy of social media and personal contact was successful, he said. McDonald added his thanks to Anna Brown for her work as his campaign assistant and Kelley and Associates for their professional help.

He listed his priorities for his new term of office:

  • Public safety and family-friendly neighborhoods: “With (Bartlett Police) Chief Rikard’s retirement, I will reorganize the the police leadership with the goal of finding the best ways to fight crime and keep Bartlett safe. In addition to policing, we have to focus on enforcement of our maintenance code. We want our neighborhoods safe and clean.”
  • Education: “We have shown our commitment to quality education for the past 16 years, and that work is not done. I look forward to the completion of the renovation of our high school and the schools administrative building. Great teachers matter and the learning environment matters. We are also excited about the new Tennessee College of Applied Technology campus here in Bartlett. With this addition we will be well situated to teach our children how to have great jobs and make a very good income.”
  • Healthy lifestyle: “We have so many wonderful parks and walking trails. We have the Rec Center and Singleton as well as some really top quality private gyms and fitness companies. Now we just have to commit to using some of them for the sake of our health. I am so excited about the Healthy Bartlett program started by last year’s Leadership Bartlett class, sponsored by our Bartlett Chamber of Commerce.”
  • Economic development and jobs: “We are always looking for job opportunities for our citizens. One real success has been the medical device manufacturers. They are here and expanding, we just need to train our workforce to meet their needs. The new TCAT will help us do that.”
  • Fiscal strength and customer focus: “As a city our customers are our citizens. I want to work with our employees to continue to improve on our goal of ‘meeting the needs and exceeding the expectations.’ I know sometimes people have unrealistic expectations of our government, but that is the exception. We will also continue to work over the next four years to improve our fiscal strength so we can withstand another financial downturn should it come. We want our pension programs to be properly funded for the sake our retirees and those that will retire in the future.”

McDonald concluded, “We have a large and complex city. But I am so thankful we still have that small town charm.”

Bartlett aldermen

In the race for Bartlett Alderman Post 3, incumbent Emily Elliott won with 12,840 votes and her opponent, Mitch Arnold, getting 7,700 votes. There also were 66 write-in votes.

Elliott said she was elated at the win but also was humbled by the confidence that citizens have in her, as evidenced by her vote count.

She also shared a story about one of the joys from her campaign. At Rivercrest School on Election Day, she met a southeast Asian man and his family, learning that it was his first time to vote. She knows that the polling places typically take photos to celebrate first-time voters, so she inquired on his behalf. The election judge said they were not doing it that day but gave permission for Elliott to use a sign prop and take a picture of the man and his family.

Elliott added, “He kept saying – if he said it once, he said it five or six times – ‘I love this country.’ That just made my day.”

She said she was pleased that her race against her opponent was civil and friendly. She attributes her success to hard work and reliance on support from friends and people she’s known through churches, the city, organizations and more. Social media was also part of her campaign strategy to get out the word about her civic involvements and accomplishments as an alderman.

“I’m out in the community, not just showing up to meetings, which you have to do,” she said. “It’s so important to be involved in different aspects of the community.”

She continued, “I think that people are aware of my love for this community and what I have done and stood for as far as supporting police and fire and trying to maintain the well-being of this city.”

She’s gratified to have been part of the city’s progress and said she plans to keep being a good steward of the taxpayers’ dollars.

“I always keep in mind that this is not my money,” she said. “It’s the citizens’ money, and I have to take care of it as if it were my own.”

Her priorities include working with developers to continue Bartlett’s growth, particularly in low-maintenance properties that appeal to busy Millennials and retiring Baby Boomers. She also wants to see Bartlett continuing to recruit businesses with help from the city’s consultant at Retail Strategies.

Infrastructure expansion and maintenance are ongoing commitments for the city mayor and board to oversee. She hopes that a new city shop for the Public Works Department will fit into an upcoming budget cycle. Elliott, who chairs a voluntary committee for building a First Responders Monument, also hopes to see that built soon.

She wants to see Bartlett remain on its fiscally sound track as a carefully managed and growing city that also supports the Bartlett City Schools district.

In another race for the city board, Bartlett Alderman W.C. “Bubba” Pleasant was running unopposed for reelection to Post 1, and he garnered 19,756 votes. Write-in candidates totaled 240.

Alderman David Parsons, also running unopposed for reelection, garnered 19,541 votes. There were 103 write-ins as well.

Bartlett City Schools

Two incumbent Bartlett City Schools board members ran unopposed and won their elections: Erin Elliott Berry won with 19,338 votes against 88 write-in votes for Post 2. Bryan Woodruff won with 19,323 votes vs. 86 write-ins.

Lakeland races

The city’s mayoral race was a tight one, with challenger Mike Cunningham edging out incumbent Wyatt Bunker, 2,648 votes to 2,324. There were an additional 21 write-in votes.

Winners in the race for City of Lakeland commissioners were Richard A. Gonzales with 2,227 votes and Michele Dial with 2,147 votes. Others on the ticket were Michael Green, 2,134 votes; Jeremy Clayton Burne, 1,938 votes; and Clark Plunk, 577 votes. There were also 23 write-ins.

Winners in the race for the Lakeland School board were incumbents Laura Harrison with 3,280 votes and Kevin Floyd with 3,006 votes, as well as challenger Deborah Thomas with 2,939 votes. Also on the ticket was Zachary Coleman with 2,092 votes. There also were 81 write-ins.