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

 


Priceless Pets Continues Saturday at the Walker County Animal Shelter

The Walker County Animal Shelter had 124 people visit the shelter and adopt 12 dogs and 14 cats on their first day of the free adoption promotion "Priceless Pets." "Among those adopted was the longest resident in the shelter, a dog that had been with us since December.  We still have plenty of dogs for the second day of our event, but will only have a few kittens," ... (click for more)

Gatlinburg Wildfires: The TDOT Story

With the six month anniversary of the Gatlinburg Wildfires on Sunday, the Tennessee Department of Transportation  would like to share its story about the heroes who worked tirelessly to save the lives of others on Nov. 28, 2016, in Sevier County. "TDOT’s official role during the crisis was to clear the roadways. This was critical for emergency crews to get to the impacted ... (click for more)

Bradley Detectives Investigating Death Of 18-Month-Old Child; Foul Play Not Suspected At This Time

Detectives in the Bradley County Sheriff's Criminal Investigations Division are investigating the death of an 18-month old child that occurred Saturday evening.   Multiple phone calls into the 911 Communications Center led to patrol deputies responding to a residence on Lowery Street, N.E. Upon arrival deputies discovered a deceased child inside the residence, which ... (click for more)

Corker Says President Trump's 1st International Trip "Executed To Near Perfection"

Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Sunday praised President Donald Trump for his first international trip.   He said, “I spoke with President Trump at length this morning and told him that I could not be more pleased with his first international trip. The trip was executed to near perfection and it appears the president ... (click for more)

Silence Ain’t Golden Anymore

There are times – moments – in life that you never forget. That night in 1972, sleeping over at my buddy Bart’s house, was one of them. We had been to a middle school concert and his big brother was in the band (very cool stuff for a 14-year-old!) and as we lay on the floor in our sleeping bags in Bart’s room he said he wanted to play a record that his brother listened to. And, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Prove No Improvement

The startling news that this year’s standardized testing was wasted on graduating seniors across Tennessee is most unsettling. This week it was learned the test results, which were to represent 10 percent of our seniors’ final grades, was a total bust. Coupled with last year’s gargantuan testing failure – the whole effort had to be scrapped -- it is now becoming realized that for ... (click for more)