Tea Party, Nightside Pachyderm Hear From City Council Candidates

Friday, January 25, 2013 - by Gail Perry
From left are Larry Minniear, Roger Tuder, Ken Smith, Tom Tomisek, Larry Grohn, Jim Folkner, Jerry Mitchell and Mark West
From left are Larry Minniear, Roger Tuder, Ken Smith, Tom Tomisek, Larry Grohn, Jim Folkner, Jerry Mitchell and Mark West
- photo by John Shackleford

The Nightside Pachyderm Club and Chattanooga Tea Party on Thursday night jointly provided a venue for Chattanooga City Council candidates to explain their views on issues that concern the city.

Each candidate was allowed to speak six minutes, followed by questions from the audience. Six candidates representing Districts 1-4 gave presentations in alphabetical order. Those participating in the forum were Jim Folkner from District 1, Jerry Mitchell and Roger Tuder from District 2, Ken Smith from District 3, and Larry Grohn and Tom Tomisek from District 4.

The first given an opportunity to speak was Jim Folkner, who is best known for leading the effort to recall Mayor Ron Littlefield. The present council representative from District 1 is Deborah Scott, who is not running for re-election. The first issue Mr. Folkner would tackle if elected is transparency in the city government and accountability of the council to the citizens. He believes the city should have fewer rules and regulations such as requiring a permit to own a horse in city limits. He also told the audience that the city government is out of control with spending. He believes Chattanooga has the money to do what needs to be done, but not necessarily for all the city’s “wants.” He said the council members will not stop spending until the citizens tell them to stop and that priorities should be reorganized.

Jerry Mitchell told the audience that he has spent most of his adult life in private businesses such as real estate and construction, but for six and a half years he ran the department of Parks and Recreation for Chattanooga, under then Mayors Corker and Kinsey. He said the City Council has already been working on a budget before the upcoming election occurs, so budget matters need to be the first item addressed. Public safety is a number one priority for this candidate, and the police and fire departments need to be shown appreciation. He said the city needs to be more responsive to its citizens, waste in government needs to be dealt with, businesses need to be given incentives and then the government needs to get out of the way. Infrastructure in the way of roads needs attention as does the improvement of public education. He also believes that government needs to be transparent.

Roger Tuder, hoping to win the position being left by Sally Robinson, said first the city needs to budget for what is needed. Budgets now must match the previous year’s budget, and in some cases money is spent in order to just not lose it. Personal safety is a priority requiring adequate law enforcement and stiff penalties. Property values should be protected and one way is to enforce city codes and crack down on crime. He also believes the city should be accountable for spending citizens’ tax dollars and to prioritize services that are necessary. The City Council should do what the citizens want them to do. "Their job is to listen and serve you, the taxpayer," he said.

Pam Ladd is being opposed by Ken Smith. His first concern is to ensure that the council works with the citizens and the next mayor. He would like to have a complete audit done of the city. The current culture of local government and the City Council of Chattanooga needs improvement, observed Mr. Smith. There is a need for the council and mayor to show civility and be respectful and honest. He said his campaign is based on fighting property tax increases, for public safety by supporting the fire and police departments, and to focus resources on essential services such as roads.

Larry Grohn is running against incumbent Jack Benson. The first issue he would address is to get a handle on the budget. He believes the city mismanages money; for example putting money in road projects such as building round-abouts rather than repaving existing roads. He said tgovernment spending needs to be changed rather than raising taxes. “The City Council should be a good steward of taxpayers’ money,” he said. Other suggestions he offered for reducing the budget were to eliminate the position of deputy mayor, which he sees as unnecessary and as a politically created position. He also thinks the city should spend less on public art and should do away with the Department of Education, Arts, and Culture and the "high salary" of that director. He suggested defining minimum and maximum salaries and creating job descriptions for city employees, which he says do not now exist. He also believes there needs to be more police and fire personnel for newly annexed areas of the city.

Another opponent of Jack Benson is Tom Tomisek. He is a past president of the Pachyderm Club, a Jaycees member, a past employee of Combustion Engineering and now owns a small business. He graduated from Hixson High School and the University of Tennessee. “Get the government out of my face” and stay out of the way, he said, when describing his number one concern with city government. He said he believes the city hates small businesses, and that the city should be an umpire, not a player. The loss of industry is a major problem he sees with Chattanooga, and said the jobs created by Volkswagen could not replace the thousands lost by the many manufacturing facilities that have left the area. He also noted his concern that crime is hurting property values in the city.

Early voting starts Feb. 13.

gailaperry@comcast.net

 


Storm Sewer Inspection Project Scheduled For 2 Intersections This Week

A storm sewer inspection project is scheduled for Tuesday, through Friday, at the intersections of Hampton Street and Palmetto Street and Hampton Street anad East 3 rd  Street.   All work will be performed in the evenings from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m.  The project will include single lane closures with flaggers. In order to view a map of these closures, visit:  ... (click for more)

Hunter Museum To Host Jazzanooga Brunches This Fall

The Hunter Museum of American Art will host a special series of brunches this fall featuring live jazz in partnership with Jazzanooga, a citywide celebration of jazz co-founded by Shane Morrow and James McKissic. The Hunter Museum has been a partner with Jazzanooga since its 2011 inception. This year they are expanding the partnership beyond the April events to include a series ... (click for more)

Bradley, 24, Charged In Death Of Boy, 3; Child Had Numerous Injuries After Left With Boyfriend; Mother Was In Workhouse

Justin Dale Bradley has been charged with criminal homicide in the death of a three-year-old child, who was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday and later died. Police said Dakota James Arndt had numerous injuries over his body. Authorities said Bradley, 24, is the boyfriend of the child's mother, Brianna Kwekel, who was in the Workhouse at the time. Ms. Kwekel was serving 48 ... (click for more)

Helen Burns Sharp Asks Recovery Of Legal Fees In Successful Black Creek TIF Lawsuit

Helen Burns Sharp, citizen activist who sued to try to stop a $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and won, is seeking to have her legal expenses paid by the city and the developers. Ms. Sharp said in a court filing that her legal bills to attorney John Konvalinka are $74,427 thus far. Chancellor Frank Brown ruled in favor of Ms. Sharp, saying the Sunshine ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)