Ashland City Mayor Steve Allen says the town’s finances are in good shape. Meanwhile, the two people seeking his job say they would use their background in business and accounting to help the town get the most out of its tax dollars.
Allen was appointed to the city’s top post last year to finish the term of Rick Johnson. In the Ashland City election on Dec. 7, he faces Janet Knight and Michael Smith.
“Running the city is a business. You’re the head of the business” Knight said. “I feel like I have a lot I can bring to this city.”
Knight runs the office side of a general-contractor firm United Mechanical Systems Inc., which does work related to underground fuel tanks. She and her husband are the co-owners.
The Southern California native says she has always been drawn to entrepreneurship. A hairstylist for many years, she managed a chain of salons and eventually opened her own beauty shop.
The Knights also own many properties in town for which she keeps the records, including several housing rentals and Highway 12 Lodge & Events.
It’s hardly surprising she lists “business sense” among her assets.
Smith is certainly no stranger to finances, either.
He’s been a stockbroker, a bank officer and a securities-compliance auditor. He now works more on his own, having returned to his roots doing small-business accounting.
“I started keeping the books for my grandfather’s electrical business when I was 13,” said Smith, who like Knight has a multi-tier agenda to improve the town.
The Nashville native has held various government positions, which he says opened his eyes to wasteful spending.
His first job was with the Metro Nashville - Davidson County parks department. He later worked for that government’s finance department, and the district attorney’s office there, as well as for the state Department of Corrections.
Government officials “think of all kinds of ways to spend money,” he said. “They’ve got very few creative ways how to save money. That’s where I think I can do a good job.”
Allen said that Ashland City has a financial manager, Gayle Bowman, and that decisions about taxes and spending involve the city council.
“It’s an effort with the city council. I think we’re all focused on it,” Allen said. “We’re very secure in our finances. We have an outstanding credit rating.”
Allen, a council member for decades before being appointed mayor last November, said his experience in City Hall lends him valuable insight.
“I know what’s going on. I’ve been a part of it,” said Allen, who is originally from Ashland City.
Allen has had a long career as a maintenance mechanic in a factory that makes automotive glass. He takes care of the machines at the plant, which used to be part of Ford Motor Co. and is now owned by Carlex Glass America.
Allen said he plans to retire from the company next year. That will afford him more time to spend on mayoral duties if he’s elected, he said.