Miles, Motley, Ueleke seek Germantown Alderman Position 4

By , Daily Memphian Updated: October 05, 2020 2:21 PM CT | Published: October 04, 2020 4:00 AM CT

John Paul Miles grew up in Germantown. Brian Ueleke chose to raise his children in the suburb. Although Rod Motley is newer to the city, he doesn’t plan to ever leave.

As Germantown continues to grow, the sense of home it provides is something all three candidates for Alderman Position 4 cherish. They value the safe community and various amenities.

Residents wonder how to balance the suburban feel of Germantown as the city grows, and they want to be heard. On Nov. 3, voters will decide which of the three candidates will replace Forrest Owens, who has held the Position 4 office the past eight years.

<strong>John Paul Miles</strong>

John Paul Miles

Miles, a graduate of the 2020 Leadership Germantown class, believes his experience on Historic and Public Safety Education commissions, coaching Houston lacrosse and recreational soccer and as a member of Kiwanis Club of Germantown provides him knowledge of the suburb.

“I’m the most qualified through my diversity of civic engagement,” Miles said. “There are different aspects of our community I am engaged with, and I ... think it’s very important to bring people together.”

Motley has spent the last three years in Germantown. As a UPS driver the last 15 years, he said his job provides a fresh perspective to the alderman position.

“As far as serving people and listening to people and caring actually what people say and think, I’ve been doing it every day,” Motley said.

Ueleke, a 2019 graduate of Leadership Germantown and member of the Financial Advisory Committee, believes his job as a financial adviser at FedEx Express gives him a level of experience like no other candidate – especially in uncertain economic circumstances. He wants to make sure the city manages its funds in a responsible manner.

“I bring a background in 17 years of finance experience, strategic planning, business planning, product development,” he said. “Every aspect of finance, I’ve been involved with.”

Engaging with residents

There is a vocal segment of residents who want their voice heard by elected officials. Often meetings involve heated debate and many votes end in a 3-2 split, which highlights the division residents feel over some issues.

“Listening to what people say, that’s number one on my list,” Motley said. “My whole stance is completely for people – hearing what they have to say. You’ve got to listen to what they say.”

<strong>Rod Motley</strong>

Rod Motley

Motley wants to make sure his decisions as alderman represent the “taxpayers of Germantown.”

Ueleke said he “(stands) with the people of Germantown.”

“I am independent. I have run my own campaign, and I believe it is important to listen to people of Germantown.”

Ueleke wants to improve communication with the people and provide information to them. He favors publicizing agendas earlier to show people what is happening in boards and commissions to help residents become better engaged.

“(Commissions) are where proposals get shaped,” he said.

Miles wants to be honest with residents and interact with them.

“I think promoting a culture of transparency and dialogue is what’s expected from an alderman,” he said emphasizing residents want elected officials to listen to their opinions. 

He will strive to inform residents of issues in the city and upcoming decisions.

“When we are discussing city matters, we should do them transparently, and make sure people are aware,” he added.

Growth and development

Germantown is landlocked and candidates acknowledge the suburb must grow in a thoughtful manner. Miles believes growth is the most important issue Germantown will face the next decade as it affects so many public services.

“I’m for controlled, measured growth,” Miles said, noting the city is bound to change. “I support the type of growth that allows Germantown to be strong and vibrant while still having the small town charm I grew up with.”

He is not anti-development but “unmanaged growth can have unintended consequences,” on infrastructure, public safety, schools and services to residents.

He loves the unique restaurants and shops that contribute to the city’s sales tax revenue, but does not support high-density mixed-use developments with apartments. He can’t change what is already approved in outline plans, but he does not want to add new projects in the future.

He also noted Germantown paid for a study in 2016 that shows it takes a long time for them to reap the benefits of those developments. 

“I would also not support buildings that are looming over your neighbors’ back yard,” he said and gave the example of TraVure on Poplar Avenue towering near homes in Nottoway. 

Motley said he moved to Germantown for the “small-town feel.”

“New hotels everywhere, overdevelopment, long commercial strips – that’s not the small-town Germantown,” he said. 

He doesn’t want people to stay home on weekends because of traffic. He noted the city can’t turn back if it continues to build and wants to be cautious as he believes city officials should address some infrastructure needs before development continues.

Motley also said decisions need to be thoughtful as to how they impact the next generation of Germantown residents. He wants to see vacant open commercial spaces used before Germantown allows more of that kind of development.

Ueleke said development is a “tricky subject” in Germantown.

“I want to see us standardize the discussion around development,” he said. “If we can standardize the presentations the city administration is giving to the aldermen and to the community, people can understand what’s going on.”

<strong>Brian Ueleke</strong>

Brian Ueleke

Ueleke wants concise city presentations highlighting impacts like infrastructure, schools and city services. He said the uniformity of those could help guide constructive conversations around development.

He is interested in revisiting some guidelines in Smart Growth like building heights and set backs. He also wants to look at the overlay on the Forest Hill Heights area in the suburb’s southeast corner.

“Is Smart Growth the right thing given the changes that have happened down there with all the apartments built (outside of Germantown)?” Ueleke said. “What’s the right use of land down there? I think there is a community discussion to be had about that.”

He also wants the city to pursue residential options for the aging population.

“There is a misconception I am pro-apartment,” Ueleke said. “That’s not the case at all … As a parent of students, the last thing I want to do is see us pursue a strategy that pushes our schools over capacity.”

Schools

Ueleke has two children who attend Dogwood Elementary School. Following his announcement to run, he contacted school board members. It has been more than two years since the school board and aldermen formally met about needs for the district. 

“The aldermen and school board need to pull together to address the needs of our students,” he said, noting capacity issues at Houston Middle, and the city’s decision to not support improvements there this year. “They are going to need help from the city to address their funding as well.”


School construction postponed as Germantown grapples with financial effects of COVID-19


The city asked the district to pay more than $355,000 as part of a settlement of splitting from Shelby County Schools. The city has paid it the past six years, and Ueleke wants the city to help pay so those dollars could go back to classrooms.

Although Miles does not have children in the schools, he recognizes the value they add to the Germantown community and also wants to see the Houston Middle addition funded.

“We have the best public schools in the area, and they need to remain so,” he said, noting GMSD is regularly recognized for its high performance. “We need to fund them to do that.”

He wants to hear from school leaders.

“I’d be willing to meet with anyone looking to improve Germantown,” including school leaders, Miles said. 

Motley said in addition to the top-notch public safety the community offers, the schools are a big draw for new residents.

“The schools are wonderful, and you’ve got to take care of the schools and take care of the kids,” he said, adding the city must ensure the district’s needs are met. “We have to take care of home. That’s home. The schools are Germantown.”

He said they have needs that the city should help address, and he cannot imagine sitting back and not helping out. He knows schools are a reason people choose to live in Germantown.

“They need what they need,” he said. “I can’t imagine anyone would sit back and say ‘We’re not going to do anything to make them better.’ We have got to do things that help out.”


Hicks, Johnson to face off for Germantown Alderman Position 3


Aldermen serve at-large. In addition to Position 4, voters will choose between Sherrie Hicks and Terri Johnson in Position 3. Jon McCreery and Brandon Musso will face off for Position 5. 

School Board races are also on the ballot with Ryan Strain and Amy Eoff running unopposed for Positions 1 and 5 respectively. Brian Curry and Scott Williams are seeking Position 3.


Curry, Williams to face off for Germantown Board of Education seat


Early voting begins Oct. 14 and Election Day is Nov. 3.

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Topics

John Paul Miles Rod Motley Brian Ueleke Alderman Position 4 Germantown Board of Mayor and Aldermen Germantown Election 2020 2020 municipal elections
Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren is a lifelong resident of Shelby County and a graduate of the University of Memphis. She has worked for several local publications and covers the suburbs for The Daily Memphian.


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