Tennessee: A New Face in City Hall

A New Face in City Hall

After 39 years as mayor of Smyrna, Tenn. (pop. 12,000), John Sam Ridley could hardly separate his personal business from the town's. He used his city credit card to visit a daughter in Texas, vacation in Florida and attend the Southern Baptist Convention, claiming that as mayor he was on duty 24 hours a day. He and his brother Knox, a former judge, owned Smyrna's Chevrolet dealership, which serviced cars for the city. A conflict-of-interest suit filed against Sam dragged on for seven years, through two of his re-elections. Then, facing an impending decree from a judge that he leave office,...

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