Though longtime St. James mayor Gary Sturm has often run unopposed, he faces a challenger this year in the form of an energetic insurgent named KimberLee Wooten, a California native who moved here in December 2013 after living in Nashville for five years.

In talking with residents of St. James--one of her major platforms is her willingness to listen to the concerns of any and all citizens--Wooten said she discovered people felt they weren’t being heard, and that a small cabal of powerful “names” have too much control in town. “Some people (and their families) can get away with everything, and there’s a disconnect; you shouldn’t have to be a ‘special someone’ to be treated fairly--we’re all equal.”

“The things I’ve noticed and experienced firsthand aren’t okay; we should be able to turn to each other,” she added. “Not everyone is fortunate to have financial blessings, but we can all be proud of our community.”

She’s under no illusions about her Sisyphean-task of unseating a longtime incumbent, either.

“I definitely don’t have the upper-hand, but I’m learning every day,” she said. “What is most appealing about me is a fresh face, someone with drive and desire who will shut up and listen.”

Echoing Samuel Beckett’s famous exhortation to, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better,” Wooten acknowledged, “I may fall flat on my face, but I’ll never know unless I try; I’m not afraid of failing.”

Wooten is going to school full-time online, taking classes toward a degree in criminal justice. Her plan is then to proceed on to law school, and she’d love to eventually have a life in politics and serve as a criminal defense lawyer and advocate for veterans.

“Everyone deserves something to be proud of, and together we can make St. James that,” Wooten said. “I like it here, but not enough people say they love this town and living here.”

For the rest of this story, including comments from the current mayor, please see the August 14 print edition of the St. James Plaindealer.