Tennessee mayoral candidate banned from city hall

A Lebanon man is running for mayor despite being banned from City Hall by a court-ordered restraining order.

Derek Dodson, 59, qualified as a candidate by gaining the required 25 signatures, saying his purpose was to use his candidacy as a platform to speak out against incumbent Mayor Philip Craighead’s bid for reelection. Bernie Ash, a Lebanon councilman, is also running for Lebanon’s mayor as early voting begins Wednesday.

“I don’t have the name recognition and have not asked for one vote,” Dodson said. "I just want to expose Craighead and I hope at least half the city feels that way."

Craighead, who believes the city "is stronger than it's ever been," didn’t comment directly on Dodson’s candidacy, but said of the restraining order: “We’re able to have council meetings and run them with a lot more dignity than before.”

The restraining order against Dodson came after a Feb. 11, special-called Lebanon council meeting that didn’t allow public comments. Dodson spoke anyway in what the city labeled an outburst.

City Attorney Andy Wright said the request for the restraining order was a culmination of “an ongoing chain of events.” Dodson was also accused of stalking and intimidation, according to court documents. Dodson has denied those allegations.

A judge later issued two injunctions that barred Dodson from City Hall and council meetings, each for three years to run concurrently, according to court documents. Dodson has appealed, but the injunctions are in effect during the appeal.

Dodson hasn't actively campaigned.


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