A civic leader and former Frankfort city commissioner is making a bid for the city’s top elected position.
Tommy Haynes, 67, announced his campaign for the 2020 mayoral race on Friday. He is the second candidate to announce intentions to run, following last week's announcement by banker and former City Commissioner Rodney Williams. Incumbent Mayor Bill May has not said whether he will seek reelection.
Haynes previously served three consecutive terms as a city commissioner but did not run for reelection in 2018. During his last two terms, he served as mayor pro-tem, a role historically given to the top vote-getter among commission candidates. He missed the spot the first time by 15 votes.
“I feel called to serve and I think that this is a good time to serve," Haynes said. "There is a lot going on in our city and county. I always look forward to serving.”
Haynes’ campaign manager is Ed Powe, who said he hasn’t lost a race with any of the local campaigns he has led over the years, most recently that of current City Commissioner Katrisha Waldridge in 2018.
He was Haynes’ campaign manager for his previous campaigns for city commission. Powe was also on Franklin County Sheriff Chris Quire’s campaign committee last year.
Haynes grew up in Nashville, attended Nashville North High School, graduated from Middle Tennessee University and went to graduate school at Long Island University in New York. As a student, he played many sports and was often named team captain, he said.
Haynes would later qualify for the Olympics and attended the 1976 games. He placed fifth in the Men's Triple Jump.
Haynes served in the military for 20 years and became the head track coach at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point for three years.
In 1994, Haynes moved to Frankfort to work on education reform at the time with the Education Professional Standards Board, where he eventually worked his way up to become second in command as deputy executive director. After he retired, he coached Western Hills High School track while his daughters Delicia Haynes and Carmen Guy ran.
He is the current president of the Kiwanis Club of Frankfort.
During the last city election cycle, Haynes decided to not seek reelection in order to take care of his wife of 46 years, Marilyn Haynes, who later died at the end of last year.
As for the issues that he is running on, Haynes said that he plans to focus on listening to citizens and teamwork. He said that groups want to move Frankfort forward, but they do not have enough partnerships between them to work together and achieve their goals.
“To me a good leader doesn’t have to have all the answers or know the answers, but they have to ask the right questions, and I think that is the piece that is missing,” Haynes said.
While issues like the recent destruction of the Frankfort Convention Center do come up, Frankfort should focus on the property around it, as that will have a lasting impact on the community, Haynes said.
As a commissioner, Haynes said he supported Juniper Hill Aquatic Center because it benefitted Frankfort’s youth and could be open for 50 years.
“That’s what we should be looking for in everything we are doing here,” Haynes said.
Haynes said he supports the plan for mixed-use residential and commercial development in the Capital Plaza area and thinks the project is currently on the right track. Haynes commended the Urban Woods apartment revitalization on Wilkinson Boulevard for bringing some color to Frankfort. He said he would support similar endeavors.
Haynes noted that the city commission has recently revisited the idea of converting West Main Street to two-way traffic. He said that he initially supported the idea based on research suggesting it had worked well in cities demographically similar to Frankfort, though he recognizes that solutions to adequate parking for vehicles and accommodation for trucks making deliveries to businesses must be found.
Competition is what drives people to be better, Haynes said, and he hopes that the community can have a discussion about what it wants from city government in this election.