Teen running for Morristown City Council
Jchesen Reid is running for city council.
Most people start small with their first job. Maybe they break into the fast food industry or bag groceries. Some of the more ambitious can even start a business mowing yards or babysitting.
Jchesen Reid, 18, a Morristown native who has recently returned to his hometown, has set his sights a little higher. For his first job, Reid wants to be the Morristown City Councilmember representing Ward 4.
Reid – who is in the adult education program at Miller Boyd working toward his GED– says he’s the first Tennessean to run for city office at 18. The son of the Rev. Nigel Marlin Reid Sr. and Tonya Treece also has a budding musical career and aspires to be a rapper.
Reid, who moved to the Nashville area when he was 9, recently returned to Morristown and he said the state of his hometown inspired him to run for office.
“I see a lot that needs to be done in my hometown,” he said.
One of the examples of something that needs to be fixed was Reid and his father’s suspensions from Morristown Parks and Rec facilities. After a shoving incident between the Reids, Jchesen was banned from the parks for a year. The elder Reid has subsequently been banned as well for alleged mistreatment of parks and rec staff.
Reid also said Mayor Danny Thomas hadn’t been treating his father fairly.
“Seeing what the mayor’s doing to my dad and what he’s doing to other people – you know, going to city council meetings, I don’t think is fair,” the candidate said.
Reid isn’t coming into the position blind. He knows that he’s young and that he has a lot to learn. But he wants to put the issue in the hands of the voters, the media and the city whether or not they want him to learn on the job and represent them.
“It’s up to y’all,” he said. “All I can say is what I say. It’s up to y’all whether to believe me or not.”
“Like I tell everybody, in order to change, you’ve got to be willing to make a change yourself,” he said.
Reid said he hopes his campaign inspires young people to become voters but also get active in seeking elected positions and running campaigns. Reid said politics in general needs more involvement from young people.
“I don’t know too much about politics, you know? All I just know is music,” he said. “Something got in my dad’s heart and he asked me do I want to run. And I was thinking this whole time there’s something I want to do for my city. The only thing I was thinking about was making it famous in rap so I could help my city up.
“Then I said, ‘Naw, man. God needs me to do something else.’”
Reid said he consulted his father on what position would be best to run for and they chose city council.
“I don’t know too much about it,” Reid said. “But I’m gonna do as best as possible to do for my city, man.”
Reid said he returned to Morristown from Nashville just a few months ago, but is hearing from friends and family members that a lot needs to change in his hometown.
“This city ain’t like how it used to be when I was young,” he said. “It’s too much going on. A lot of my friends are going to prison. A lot of my cousins are getting in trouble. A lot of friends I was graduating with, they’ve moved out of Tennessee, period. … So really I don’t see nuthin’ that this city’s doing for me and these young kids like me. … It’s too much to do in this city that’s trouble and all these kids are getting into trouble for no reason.”
Reid himself has found some trouble. He was recently arrested in connection to a bicycle theft at College Square Mall. Reid did not want to specifically address his pending legal issue.
Reid said he hasn’t talked with the city leadership – city administrator, police chief, fire chief – that answers directly to city council so he hasn’t formed an opinion about their job performance.
He did, however, specifically mention the city administrator’s pay as a place where the city could recover revenue after cutting the garbage fee, a move Reid supports.
Reid also said he supports the city’s current path of sewer, wastewater plant and road upgrades. He would even try to increase the funding for the infrastructure improvements, he said.
On the issue of a pair of boards that were the source of some friction in the previous city council term, Reid said he would keep the airport board as is, but work to restructure the Morristown Utilities Board. Specifically, he would work to have long-time chair George McGuffin removed though he isn’t aware of specific ordinance that would allow a councilmember to remove a board member midterm.
“(McGuffin) is out, period,” he said.
Reid said he would work on a making a new community center a reality with more activities to keep kids away from drugs, drinking and violence.
“Every city or small town has a community center or something,” he said. “Something that these young kids can do, even if it’s the church.”
In the end, Reid said he’s braced himself for the rough and tumble world of politics.
“I’m ready for everything they’re going to throw at me, man,” he said. “Because the music business is more worse than this. Just politics. Y’all gonna make cartoons and talk bad about me like you do every president, especially like y’all done Obama. … I’m just ready for it. I’m just trying to basically put on for Morristown, man. Because I’m from here.”
He says, if elected, he will cast his votes for the people.
“I’ll make sure it’s for the people,” he said, “be they rich or poor, like me.”
Reid faces incumbent Dennis Alvis, who was appointed mid-term to replace the late Claude Jinks. Early voting for the election begins Wednesday, April 15. The election itself will be May 7.