Gotto keeping options open for higher office

Tuesday, June 9, 2009 at 12:00am

Approaching the midway point of his second and final term as the District 12 Metro Council representative, Jim Gotto isn’t necessarily finished with public office.

Gotto said he would consider running for state or Metro office in either the 2010 or 2011 elections.

“I’m not ruling anything out, but it’s a long ways away,” Gotto said. “I’m not actively looking for anything either.”

Gotto, 59, was asked to respond to rumors that he is specifically contemplating a run for the District 60 House of Representatives seat.

“I haven’t decided one way or the other on that. I really don’t know,” Gotto said. “I prefer just not to comment on that. It’s still early and… a lot of things could happen between now and six or eight months.”

Rep. Ben West, the potential target of a Gotto state House campaign, was elected to the General Assembly in 1984 and has enjoyed popularity in his district. Earlier this year, however, West suffered a heart attack and missed several weeks of the legislative session.

Gotto said he fully expected West, a Democrat, to run again next year.

Metro Council members don’t have to express party affiliation, although Gotto has established a reputation as a conservative leader on the Council. He said he would run as a Republican if he did decide to pursue West’s seat, but added that he wouldn’t “be a homer for some umbrella cause, be it Republican Party or anything else.”

Since being re-elected to Council in 2007, Gotto has garnered more clout including a spot on the Planning Commission. As the Council representative, he weighs in on critical zoning and land use issues throughout Davidson County.

Gotto said the state House was not the only potential office he would consider — pointing out there were also Metro-wide races in 2010 and 2011. He was not more specific about which other offices he would consider.

With the Planning Commission seat opening up again in September, Gotto said he was interested in continuing to serve.

“I sent a letter to all the Council members two months ago now, thanking them for the opportunity they gave me, because I’ve really enjoyed it,” Gotto said. “And I told them if they wish for me to do so, I’m certainly willing to do it for another two years. It certainly takes the time if you want to do it right."

Gotto worked for 32 years at Bell South, including 18 years in governmental relations is now retired.

“I’ve enjoyed serving my community,” he said.