Several dozen supporters and citizens gathered Thursday, March 17, for a meet-and-greet and fundraiser for Bartlett mayoral candidate Brent Hammonds.
Hammonds and his wife, Samantha, visited with family, friends, supporters and the public at Bartlett Banquet Hall on Bartlett Boulevard for three hours.
A Bartlett Police officer since 1997, Hammonds said his campaign for mayor Nov. 8 will provide a new perspective and his priorities will be on business development, government transparency and education.
“Honesty, transparency, empathy, and my relationship with God all are important to me. If elected, each of these will guide any decisions that I make,” Hammonds told the crowd. “Specifically, I would like to increase transparency between City Hall and the public. And to be honest about the decisions that are being made, including the ‘why’ when decisions are made.”
He touted his skills of empathy as an officer and his ability to meet the immediate needs of residents, telling the story of an elderly woman he learned about who lived alone, had fallen on tough times, and lost her power one hot summer. He tapped members of his church, Bartlett Baptist, community resources and the police department to help her get a window air-conditioning unit installed for free, clean up her house, get her finances in order and create a budget so she could pay her bills and not lose her home.
“I think it’s vital that we work together in our community to help meet the needs of our citizens,” he said.
Hammonds said he will be focused on business development.
“I want to bring in additional businesses that focus on what our residents want, businesses that are great for our families and family entertainment.”
He said Bartlett has enjoyed some commercial successes the past year.
“We’re about 97 percent full, but there are still some vacancies along Stage Road that have been vacant for years,” he said. “I want to work with the Bartlett Chamber and identify new businesses that best meet the needs of our community and then work with the property owners to facilitate the businesses moving into those vacant spaces.”
He also mentioned the Union Depot mixed-use development on Highway 70 just north of Stage Road at the former Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home property.
The estimated $162 million development by Keith Grant and partners on 74 acres will bring about 640 residences comprised of single-family homes, townhouses, apartments, and flats.
Many residents in the adjacent Kirby Lakes and Briarwood subdivisions oppose the development, saying its density will add a lot more traffic and increase utility demands among other concerns.
“I certainly hear, and I understand the concerns,” he said. “And as this project progresses, we can ensure the decisions that are made are what’s best for Bartlett.”
Hammonds also wants to ensure the school system continues to be a top priority, noting that Bartlett City Schools draws families to the city and has been named one of the Top 10 best places to work among large businesses in the Mid-South for many years.
“I think it’s vital to invest not only in our students, but the teachers to support the great work they are doing.”
Hammonds said protecting property values will be a priority when decisions are made.
“I am a property owner in Bartlett, my parents are property owners in Bartlett, my in-laws and friends are property owners in Bartlett,” he said. “I am not a politician by trade. I have no vested interest in a business to keep or promote. I am not running for mayor for any other reason than to continue to serve the city that I love.
“I want to do that by listening to the residents and applying changes where it makes sense, and where we can,” he continued. “Your feedback is very important to me and will continue to be important to me if I become mayor of Bartlett.”
In attendance at the reception and fundraiser were candidates for other positions. They included Jimmy Norman, who is running for Alderman, Position 1 on the Bartlett Board of Mayor and Aldermen, and Dewayne Jackson, a candidate for Shelby County Probate Court Clerk.
Hammonds was raised in Bartlett, attended Shadowlawn Middle School, graduated from Bartlett High School, and has attended Bartlett Baptist Church for nearly his whole life. He taught the D.A.R.E. program while with the department, which works with educators and parents to keep drugs out of schools.