Pictured: Commissioner Bobby Hullett (center) and Jennifer Luteran (in black and yellow on left)
There was no shortage of applicants for the vacant District 7 County Commission seat that opened when Tom Bain resigned in January. But who he wanted to take his place was decided long before his resignation.
On Monday night, with four Brentwood residents in the running, commissioners chose Bobby Hullett, a twice-elected District 7 School Board member, to enter into their ranks. The vote was 13-7 for Hullett against Jennifer Luteran, Hullett’s opponent in last November’s school board race.
Hullett, after being appointed, officially resigned his school board seat. It remains to be filled.
“Why did I submit my name while serving on the school board?” Hullett asked rhetorically. “This is an opportunity to serve in a greater capacity. I can serve with insight with the education discussion, which is a majority of our budget, as well as other strategic initiatives that face our budget. Growth affects everything in our county. No one could foresee Tom’s illness. I’m sharing this with you with Tom’s permission. He shared his illness with me. As we considered the conversation he asked if I would consider replacing him on the commission. We have always had a strong working relationship. I took some time talked it over with my family and supporters and the response was 100 percent yes. I would serve on the commission as I have on the school board for the past four years.”
Hullett was elected in November to a second term in the District 7 Williamson County Schools seat, which he necessarily resigned to accept the commission seat.
Commissioner Bert Chalfant, the other District 7 commissioner, was charged with interviewing the applicants over the past month and made his recommendation: Hullet. In the public speaking part of the meeting, five citizens spoke for Luteran and against Hullett and also Chalfant, urging him to abstain from voting because he chose not to interview or vet Luteran while he did both with Hullett.
“I find it confusing that Bobby Hullett would be so willing to abandon his post so quickly when he was just elected, and it seems evident he only wants to use this seat to launch himself into a race for Charles Sargent’s [state representative District 61] seat in two years,” Natalie Pierce, of Brentwood, said.
No one spoke from the public on behalf of Hullett.
“You heard misinformation, statistical inaccuracies and personal attacks earlier in the public comments section,” Hullett said in response to these arguments.
Chalfant said he made up his mind on Hullett long before Bain even resigned and anyone officially applied.
“This is one of the most difficult things a commissioner is called upon,” Chalfant said.
According to Chalfant, this process started six months ago when Bain came to Chalfant to say he would not likely make it through the term. Chalfant then said before Bain announced his resignation, the two discussed eventually nominating Hullett, back before he even ran for school board re-election.
“He did not offer himself initially; did not at all solicit the position, at all, and this situation because he had run for re-election that would have been a very bad precedent he felt to set [sic.],” Chalfant said. “But he did not know about it. He had no idea. So I would like to nominate Robert Hullett.”
Hullett submitted his name the week Bain resigned, in the middle of January. His was the first application received by the county mayor’s office in the days after Bain’s resignation.
Hullett holds a bachelor’s of business administration in sales and marketing from the University of Memphis, a master’s in education in school administration and supervision from Lipscomb University, and is still pursuing his Ph.D. Hullett moved to Brentwood with his parents in 1980 and began attending fourth grade at Lipscomb Elementary before advancing to Brentwood Middle and graduating from Brentwood High. District 7 is bounded to the east by Edmondson Pike and to the west by Hillsboro Road.
In addition to teaching marketing and management at Ravenwood during 2004-07, Hullett taught instrumental music for grades 5-12 at David Lipscomb Campus School in 2000-04. Once working at Williamson-based Lee Company, he now works for Vanderbilt Medical Center as a senior information technology consultant.
He and his wife, Kristin, have two sons in Williamson schools.
Hullett immediately took over the seat and voted on the night’s resolutions.
His empty school board seat starts the process all over again. Anyone wanting to take over his now-vacant seat, which is not up for re-election until 2020, can apply to Mayor Rogers Anderson’s office.
The commission will vote to decide who among the applicants will be the replacement. The decision will not necessarily happen in March.
Recently, Nancy Garrett was appointed with a majority vote in November to fill resigned-member Susan Curlee’s seat. The seat had been vacant since September.