District 2 City Council candidate Roger Tuder told members of the Pachyderm Club on Monday that he will focus on the interests of district residents and "not be beholden to any political group."
He said, "I will not be a puppet. I will not be a rubber stamp."
Asked if he was supported by former state Senator Ward Crutchfield, he said, "I haven't talked to him in about 11 years. I haven't gotten a campaign check from him."
Mr. Tuder, who is CEO of the Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee, also said he "will not apologize for how I have earned my living.
He told club members, "Our jails are packed. Those with lesser crimes could be held in less secure facilities and they should be out cleaning up ditches and cleaning off gang graffiti. They shouldn't be sitting watching television."
Mr. Tuder said he will back programs like the construction academy he helped found at East Ridge High School in 2002. He said that gives students "something they can take out to the real world." He said they "can go straight to the work force" or they can move on to Chattanooga State. He said a program is now in place where they can also study construction management at UTC.
"Over 1,200 lives have been touched by that program," he said.
Mr. Tuder said he will vote against "unnecessary spending and pet projects." Noticing Councilwoman Deborah Scott in the audience, he said she is often in the minority 8-1. He said, "If I were up there, it would be 7-2."
He said much more focus needs to be on fixing streets. He said he recently campaigned on one street in the upper part of the district and was walking "because you can't hardly drive it."
Mr. Tuder said the city nas built a number of roundabouts, which he said cost over $1 million each, while putting just $1.7 million in the budget for street paving."
He also said the city needs to do a much better job with the stormwater program, and he said several areas of the district have flooding problems.
He also said he will work "against blight that takes property values down."