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Retiring alderman opens final board meeting with words of caution

McLendon: ‘Get off social media and engaged with local elections’

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Dana McLendon

Dana McLendon

At his final Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting Tuesday night, Alderman Dana McLendon was recognized by the mayor to give a miscellaneous report.  

The Ward 2 alderman, who has been elected six times and served for 24 years, ended his career by addressing those gathered in person and watching online. 

“I’m going to tell it like it is, and I’m going to say things that are strictly on my behalf; I don’t speak for anyone else,” McLendon said, noting other candidates may feel the same way.  

Over the past few months, he said the board received an “avalanche” of emails and communications about important community issues.

“Social media has been abuzz with instant subject-matter experts and keyboard warriors,” he said. “People have said things about me and to me that they would never have the courage to say to my face.”

McLendon challenged viewers: “I hope that all of you watching this would commit your time and your energy to actual candidates and campaigns and elections, rather than one issue at a time, because this room only fills up with NIMBY [not in my backyard] issues,” he said. 

“I would tell you, it would probably be a lot better for us all if, for everyone who’s got the energy to rail on social media and send emails and all that, pick someone that’s running for an office and help them get elected.” 

Currently, early voting is underway for Franklin’s alderman election, which often sees very low voter turnout. McLendon said they would be lucky to receive votes from 10% of registered voters.

“That’s absurd; it’s ridiculous. I wish you had to vote before you could send an email to anyone on the board,” he said, to laughter.

McLendon is a criminal defense attorney who moved to Franklin in the 1990s and got involved with the board through a neighborhood issue.

While he has appreciated his time as an alderman and those who voted for him, McLendon said the process today is demoralizing. 

“When you turn around to work hard to get yourself elected, or run for office, and only 10% of the people in this community turn out to vote, even against you, and you try to do the job that’s hard, and you get snotty emails from people who tell you you’re corrupt, and they say things to you like, ‘How dare you?’ you’re not going to get very many good candidates,” he said. “You’re going to get either the ruthlessly ambitious or the delightfully naïve.”

McLendon said he meant no disrespect to the current candidates. 

“God bless ‘em,” he said. “I don’t want the job anymore. I hope they do a good job, whoever it may be.

“Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.”

Early voting for the Franklin alderman election is underway at the Williamson County Administrative Complex, located at 1320 West Main St. Voting hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and this Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon. Early voting ends Oct. 21, and Election Day is Oct. 26. 

For more information on the election, visit www.williamsoncounty-tn.gov.

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