There very well could be a contested municipal election in Brentwood this spring.
A fourth Brentwood resident has picked up the paperwork necessary to run for one of the three open seats on the Board of Commissioners.
John Byers, a married father of three and sales director at Aon Risk Solutions, picked up his qualifying petition from the Williamson County Election Commission office on Monday. He will have until Feb. 16 at noon to gather the minimum 25 signatures from Brentwood residents required for the petition and return it.
There are three commission seats up in the May 2 election. The three incumbents up for reelection — Mark Gorman, Rhea Little and Mayor Regina Smithson — have all picked up their qualifying petitions, according to the county election commission. Of those three, Gorman and Smithson have already turned theirs in. Little said he is going to turn his petition in, but hasn’t yet.
Byers, who was born and raised in the Atlanta, moved to Brentwood five-and-a-half years ago with his wife Vanessa and their three children John David, 11, Ross, 9, and Max, 6.
He’s interested in a commission seat for a couple of reasons, he said. The first is rooted in his love for his adopted city.
“I just have a passion for this place,” Byers said. “I’ve got three young boys who are growing up here. It’s been an incredible place for us and its served our family well. It’s to the point where I feel like I’ve got something that I can offer to Brentwood. In terms of time and commitment and passion, I feel like this was a good opportunity to engage.”
Byers, 35, thinks that as part of a younger family he could bring a fresh perspective to the commission.
“I think the most meaningful thing for me at the moment is the fact that I can represent the voice, a voice that’s currently not represented on the commission, which is a large and growing segment in Brentwood of the young married families with children. I think there’s no one representing that on the board and I think it’s a growing segment and I think that’s something the commission needs,” Byers said.
Byers said he feels that his demographic is under-engaged in the political process locally. He has sensed a wide respect for elected officials in Brentwood — which he thinks is a good thing — but thinks that changing times require changing perspectives.
“I think … there’s gonna be a great need as the times change and the region and our city changes … for younger people and young families to be further involved and be part of that change,” Byers said.
Byers has been in the insurance business for 15 years. For much of that time he “ran his own shop,” as he put it. After the move to Brentwood, he ended up going to work for Willis, before switching to Aon in 2014, where he is now Sales Director.
In addition to his work life, Byers is a graduate of Leadership Brentwood and currently sits on the boards of Leadership Brentwood, the FiftyForward Martin Center, Junior Achievement and the Young Leaders Council.
His wife Vanessa grew up in the area.
“She went to elementary and middle school in Brentwood prior to moving to Atlanta, and she didn’t really ever want to move so it was more like a homecoming to her,” Byers said.
The family did not actually move to Brentwood expressly for business. The Byers’ were frequent visitors to the area and loved it so much each time that they just decided to relocate.
“When we left we’d say, Wouldn’t it be great to live here?, so finally we said, Let’s stop saying that and actually make the move,” Byers said.
Even though he’s picked up the necessary paperwork, Byers said he is not yet 100 percent decided on a run. He is very strongly considering it, though, and leaning towards entering the race.
Of the incumbents he would face if he does decide to get into the race, Mark Gorman is the most recently elected, having served on the board since 2013. Rhea Little was first elected in 2009. Mayor Regina Smithson has been on the board since 1989.