Husband charges nepotism
Katherine Fernandez
Loudon Utilities Board infuriated a visitor at Monday’s special called meeting, which was held to appoint Elizabeth Bradshaw, Loudon County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw’s wife, to be the new director of customer service.

Board member Michael Cartwright abstained from voting by saying, “I pass.” All other board members voted “Aye.”

Resident Jack Lefler questioned why board members acted as if they had no idea who Elizabeth Bradshaw was. Lefler complained that during the meeting one board member asked if Bradshaw was a local.

“No one on the board, and certainly Lynn Mills, nobody mentioned that this lady, Mrs. Bradshaw, was Buddy’s wife, very intentionally because they all knew it,” Lefler said. “That’s fine. They can do what they want to, but I just found it absolutely ridiculous that they were asking like, ‘Who is she?’ and ‘Where does she live?’ and all that stuff.”

Lefler said his wife, who has 30 years experience in management and customer service, was also interviewed for the position.

Elizabeth Bradshaw spent 12 years working her way from office manager to upper management at Rural/Metro but was laid off during employee cuts in 2013 after returning from maternity leave, Mills said.

During the meeting, Mills said Rural/Metro regretted the decision but did not rehire Bradshaw.

Lefler said Mills either lied or Rural/Metro violated the law by handing out such information as a reference.

Mills rebutted that the information did come from a reference, but the reference was not Rural/Metro.

“I’m not happy with it because of, obviously, there’s only two reasons in my opinion why Mrs. Bradshaw was chosen,” Lefler said. “If you looked up the word nepotism, the utilities, they’d be the poster child.”

Lefler said Elizabeth Bradshaw was either recommended because she was the new mayor’s wife or because Lefler’s wife was 59 years old.

Mills said four face-to-face interviews for the

position were held within the past two weeks, and  the list of applicants had to be narrowed down from more than 155 people, most of whom lived out-of-state.

“(Bradshaw) had experience in upper management,” Mills said. “She started out as office manager and then she moved up into upper management. That shows a progressive change in her abilities.

“She does have management experience, and that’s one thing we want to do in our customer service department is change some policies and procedures,” he said. “I just felt she had the background that would help to make those changes.”

Mills said Elizabeth Bradshaw can begin work immediately and advised the board appoint her to the position because it needed to be filled quickly in order to hire a new customer service representative.

Mills said who her husband was had “no bearing” on his decision to recommend Elizabeth Bradshaw to the board for hire.

“I understand where Jackie’s coming from,” Mills said. “Jackie’s wife  did make the top five, but she was not recommended.”