Daily Herald seeks to minimize Amanda Kelton’s experience in an attempt to influence outcome of Maury County Mayor’s race.

July 28, 2018

Throughout this election, the Columbia Daily Herald, under the direction of Mr. James Bennett, has shown an obvious political bias in their reporting and has unethically withheld facts and tailored its narrative in an attempt to affect the outcome of the election.

Amanda Kelton is a business leader who has been running on a platform of bringing professional leadership to the county executive. It is her belief that she can leverage her experience as an operations director to improve processes and help the county government function more efficiently – ultimately saving the county money and allowing it to do more for the people of Maury.

The first article the Daily Herald published about Amanda Kelton’s campaign came out on February 13th and was written by Jay Powell after an in-person interview. Mr. Powell was professional in both his interview and his reporting. He included Amanda’s military service and her professional business experience in his article. Every article since; however, has either downplayed or completely omitted Ms. Kelton’s business experience and leadership credentials.

The second article published, on March 17th, simply referred to Ms. Kelton as a U.S. Army veteran. Although notable, Ms. Kelton’s military experience is in no way her primary qualification for the role of Mayor.

For an article published on April 5th, Mr. Bennett requested that the candidates provide a written statement about why they were running for Mayor. The statement Ms. Kelton sent Mr. Bennett discussed her leadership experience and her participation in leadership development programs. This information was not included in the article. From Mr. Ogles's response the article included, “My experience in economics, tax policy and business is a necessary background at a time when Maury County needs qualified leadership the most.” From Mayor Norman's, “Serving as Maury County mayor over the last four years has been an incredible honor and experience.” And Commissioner Shackelford's, “During my two terms serving as a county commissioner …” and, “I have spent the last 40-plus years as a local business man …”

Although the article published June 22nd about the Mayoral Forum focused almost exclusively on Incumbent Mayor Norman. It did include some information about Ms. Kelton. It mentioned that she was an Army veteran. It called her a “relative newcomer to Maury County” along with Andy Ogles (Ms. Kelton has been a resident of Maury County for 10 years, while Mr. Ogles has been here for three). It also stated that she was “formerly was an operational manager for Chick-fil-A”.

Ms. Kelton was the Director of Operations for Chick-fil-A Columbia before she left to serve as Operations Director for Quest Events Nashville, a large events services company. Referring to her merely as an operational manager grossly understates Amanda Kelton's business operations experience, and by extension, her qualifications to serve as County Mayor. The article goes on to call Ogles “an expert on tax policy” and to highlight his small business experience. And as far as Shackelford is concerned, it states he has “40 years of local business experience. [And that] He serves as senior vice president of Redman-Davis Insurance Agency.

One should note at this point how each subsequent article appears to minimize Ms. Kelton’s experience and qualifications more than the last. The next article, for example, published July 23rd,  simply states, “Kelton served in the military before going to work at Chick-fil-A.”

And finally, the article published July 28th based on a questionnaire sent to the candidates trims Ms. Kelton’s response to the question about "experience and previous public service" down to just her military experience.  It should be noted that this article was published after Ms. Kelton publicly accused the paper’s editor, James Bennett, of ethics violations, and it’s hard to view the exclusion of her business and leadership experience as anything other than retribution for her comments and a continuing effort to damage Ms. Kelton’s campaign.

We believe that the editor of the Daily Herald, Mr. James Bennett, has made editorial choices clearly intended to minimize Amanda Kelton’s experience and qualifications. We furthermore believe that Mr. Bennett did so in order to influence the outcome of the election, and that this behavior constitutes a serious ethics violation and a betrayal of public trust.

Links to the articles mentioned are provided below with excerpts supporting the facts discussed.

Feb. 13, 2018 http://www.columbiadailyherald.com/news/20180213/amanda-kelton-campaigns-to-be-mayor-8216for-people8217?start=2

Title: Amanda Kelton campaigns to be mayor ‘for the people’

By: Jay Powell

“Although she doesn’t have a lifelong political career, Kelton is no stranger to leadership and teamwork. She served two years under the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, which she said taught her a lot about professionalism and the value of self-discipline.”

“After leaving the military, she worked as junior manager for Chick-fil-A while earning a college degree, later becoming marketing director and director of operations for the company and helping to establish its Columbia location.

She most recently managed operations and logistics for Quest Events in Nashville, but said she wants to focus the next year on her campaign, meeting Maury County residents and figuring out exactly what people want to make it a better place to live.”

Mar. 17, 2018 http://www.columbiadailyherald.com/news/20180319/ogles-accepts-gop8217s-nomination-for-county-mayor

Title: Ogles accepts GOP’s nomination for county mayor

By: James Bennett

“He will face at least three candidates in the Aug. 2 general election, County Mayor Charlie Norman, County Commissioner Sonny Shackleford and U.S. Army veteran Amanda Kelton.”

Apr. 5, 2018 http://www.columbiadailyherald.com/news/20180405/candidates-beat-deadline-to-file-for-election

Title: Candidates beat deadline to file for election

By: James Bennett

Bennett quoting Ms. Kelton: “Ultimately, I am running because I want to help improve my community. I have never been very interested in politics or government. To be honest, I didn’t really think about it. Like most people, I took for granted the fact that government happens, and I was under the impression that the men and women in government were special somehow, uniquely qualified perhaps, or part of some select career path (a path I wasn’t on). I never in a million years would have envisioned myself running for office. ... I am a professional leader. It is what I love to do, and I’m good at it. I am also focused on community. I volunteer and advocate for local causes. More specifically, I am the type of leader we need as county mayor where I hope to not only help improve process but inspire others to serve their community as well.”

(Mr. Bennett took the quote from the following statement Ms. Kelton gave him. “Ultimately, I am running because I want to help improve my community. I have never been very interested in politics or government. To be honest, I didn’t really think about it. Like most people, I took for granted the fact that government happens, and I was under the impression that the men and women in government were special somehow, uniquely qualified perhaps, or part of some select career path (a path I wasn’t on). I never in a million years would have envisioned myself running for office.

I grew up in a family of modest means. I worked various odd jobs, but mostly I worked my way up the ladder at Chick-fil-A. Some people probably look down on this experience, but if you do a little research, you will find that the Chick-fil-A organization is highly regarded for it leadership development programs. It is also an organization that places great emphasis on servant leadership and community stewardship. During my time in the Army, I was exposed to a much different organizational culture, but the commitment to integrity, team building, and selfless service remained constant. There is an art and science to leadership, I think that this is something we often forget when we elect people to office.

Recent years in national politics have left so many Americans frustrated and disillusioned. Shutdowns, showdowns, and letdowns have become all too common. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that far too many politicians get elected, not by the merits of their ideas or qualifications, but rather, by how popular, wealthy, or well-connected they are.

I am a professional leader. It is what I love to do, and I’m good at it. I am also focused on community. I volunteer and advocate for local causes. And I can’t help but work incredibly hard. I don’t remember exactly when, but at some point I realized that I was precisely the sort of person who should be running for office. More specifically, I am the type of leader we need as County Mayor where I hope to not only help improve process but inspire others to serve their community as well.”)

Jun. 22, 2018 http://www.columbiadailyherald.com/news/20180622/mayoral-debate-norman-praises-positive-campaigns-of-his-challengers

Title: Mayoral debate: Norman praises positive campaigns of his challengers

By: James Bennett

“Rather than running negative attacks, Norman said he’s been proud of the civility from Republican nominee Andy Ogles, Maury County Commissioner Sonny Shackelford and Army veteran Amanda Kelton.”

“Ogles and Kelton, relative newcomers to Maury County compared to Norman and Shackelford, have been introducing themselves to voters since qualifying for the Aug. 2 ballot.”

“Kelton, also an independent, is a mother of two who formerly was an operational manager for Chick-fil-A. She has been in Maury County for 10 years.”

Jul. 23, 2018 https://www.keltonformayor.com/original-article.html

Title: Outside group tries to influence County Mayor's race

By: James Bennett

“Kelton served in the military before going to work at Chick-fil-A.”

Jul. 28, 2018 http://www.columbiadailyherald.com/news/20180728/candidate-questionnaire-amanda-kelton-runs-for-mayor-of-maury-county

Title: Candidate Questionnaire: Amanda Kelton runs for mayor of Maury County

By: Michael Christen

Christen reporting Ms. Kelton’s response to the question “Experience and previous Public Service”: “I served as an enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army. Although I decided not to make a career of military service, my time there was invaluable, as I was exposed to an organizational culture committed to integrity, team building, and selfless service.”

(Mr. Christen too the quote from the following response Ms. Kelton provided in her questionnaire: “I served as an enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army. Although I decided not to make a career of military service, my time there was invaluable, as I was exposed to an organizational culture committed to integrity, team building, and selfless service. There is an art and science to leadership, I think that this is something we often forget when we elect people to office. I grew up in a family of modest means. I worked various odd jobs, but mostly I worked my way up the ladder at Chick-fil-A, eventually serving as Director of Operations for Chick-fil-A Columbia during a period of award winning growth and prosperity. Some people may look down on this experience, but if you do a little research, you will find that the Chick-fil-A organization is highly regarded for it leadership development programs. It is also an organization that places great emphasis on servant leadership and community stewardship. After leaving Chick-fil-A I went on to work as Director of Operations for one of the largest events services companies in Nashville, and I have worked as a consultant in the areas of training, process improvement, and LEAN implementation.”)

 

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