Incumbent Mason "Bests" opponent in mayor's race

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By Cindy Simpson

After soundly defeating his opponent — who also happened to be his former fire chief — Harriman Mayor Chris Mason said his second term will see a lot of progress.

Mason beat Wayne Best with about 60 percent of the vote on Tuesday.

“I’m really excited about getting to finish what we started downtown,” Mason said.

He said the city’s investment in the Princess Theater arts education center — something his opponent was openly critical of — will drive what happens downtown.

Mason said people will be pleasantly surprised at what they see in the near future.

“Our downtown should and will look a lot different in two years,” he said.

Mason said voters supported his mission and plan for the community.

“I told somebody yesterday it is a report card, just like in school,” Mason said. “I think everything overall was graded and approved. I think the whole vision, the things we have done, have gotten a lot of support from everyone.

“I’m humbled and thankful, and I want to thank all my supporters,” Mason added.

Mason said residents will like what they see in Midtown with the $72 million facility to be built by  Covenant Health to replace Roane Medical Center downtown.

Not only will it spur retail growth but also free up hospital buildings downtown for business opportunities.

Other things that Mason will continue to work toward in the future include bringing more opportunities to the children of the city.

He said he’s been working with the Boys and Girls Club of Oak Ridge about opening a facility in Harriman.

“First I’d like to see them do all the after-school programs,” Mason said.

In Oak Ridge, the program also runs all the sports programs.

Mason has not completely given up on an indoor-pool facility he proposed early in his political role, but said it may not be financially possible.

The economy will play a big role in when the city may be able to fund something like that or even a splash pad like Roane County Park has, Mason said.

“An outside one would be a lot cheaper, and a splash pad would be a lot cheaper,” Mason said.

He said Roane Medical Center’s main building may be the perfect location for such a program.

Also re-elected were incumbents Lonnie Wright, who had been serving two years of a term; top vote-getter Ken Mynatt, making him vice mayor once again;  and Kenyon Mee.