​Meet the Candidate Marilyn Campbell Rodman: Restoring ‘We’ Power

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of interviews with some of the local candidates running for office. Marilyn Campbell Rodman was interviewed on Sept. 17. The second Monteagle mayoral candidate interview will be in the next issue.

Marilyn Campbell Rodman’s campaign for Monteagle mayor calls for “restoring” what she calls “the important principles of government: responsibility and accountability, transparency and fairness, and strategic planning for smart growth.” What does this mean translated into action? Rodman cited her prior two terms as mayor by way of illustration.

During her tenure, the city wastewater plant came out from under a 7-year moratorium. “We did it with grants, stimulus money, and a 1.7 percent interest rate loan,” Rodman said. The city’s revenue increased by 25 percent, in part by saving over $200,000 by refinancing debt. Monteagle had a Triple A credit rating, over $2 million in capital assets, earned three GFOA awards for outstanding financial management, and employed a CPA to monitor checks and balances.

Proud of her administration’s transparency and fairness, Rodman said all meetings were televised. The tapes archived in a safety deposit box provided verification if meeting minutes needed clarification. The city also created a website and adopted state-sanctioned ethical standards. “There was no preferential treatment,” Rodman stressed, pointing out she insisted her daughter, a certified police officer, not be employed by the city.

The 2020 Strategic Plan developed by Rodman’s administration relied on town meetings for input. The plan called for historic preservation, beautification, outdoor recreation, business recruitment, and other quality of life enhancements along with providing a cost blueprint for water and sewer maintenance and replacement.

“We got a lot done,” Rodman said. “I say ‘we,’ because everyone brought their own assets. People worked on projects they cared about.” She credits her vice mayor Lexi Orr for business expertise and leading the way on water, sewer, and road projects. Under the guidance of Nate Wilson, grant money completed the Mountain Goat Trail from Monteagle to Sewanee. Harry Parmley spearheaded the Movies in the Park event and purchase of a projector and screen for just $4,000. The Car Show became a regular happening, and the city installed bike lanes on Main Street.

Looking to the future, Rodman is “100 percent” in favor of more recycling, although she insists, “Recycling needs to be safe, realistic, and not at the expense of the town.” As mayor, she proposed and the city adopted metal recycling, with the recycled metal sold as a revenue source for the city.

Asked about her thoughts on the controversial travel center proposed for I-24 exit 135, Rodman said, “You do the right thing. Do I know what the right thing is, no, because I’m not in a position to talk with the attorneys.” She added that, although her husband managed the existing travel center at exit 135, she did not know if he had been offered a position at the proposed travel center. “I’m by no means involved,” she said.

Born and raised on the Plateau, Rodman has lived in Monteagle 24 years. She has three daughters and five grandchildren. Founder and longtime editor and publisher of the community newspaper The Cumberland View, Rodman in part credits her educational background for her success. She holds a degree in business with an emphasis on marketing, organizational development and communications. But she insists her main qualification for serving as mayor is “I love Monteagle, and I love the people.”

“Being mayor is about working behind the scenes because you care. You learn what it takes to get the job done, and you find the people to do it. Monteagle is the gateway to other Plateau communities, and we can offer so much if we utilize the strengths and resources we have and work together.”