Rico Says He Won't Apologize For Going To So Many Ribboncuttings; Denies He is "Gladhander"

Monday, February 18, 2013

City Councilman Manny Rico told members of the Pachyderm Club on Monday that he won't apologize for going to so many ribboncuttings.

"You don't know how much it means to these business people when a City Council member shows up for their event. It's special to them," he said.

He also denied that he is a "gladhander." He said, "I don't go around a room shaking hands. That's not me."

Councilman Rico, who is trying to gain re-election to a third term in District 7, also said, "I am not a community organizer." Instead, he said, he responds to the needs of neighborhood associations in the community and often attends their meetings.

He defended his votes in favor or a "green roof" on City Hall and for the city's purchase of the "Blue Rhino" public art.

On the roof, he said it was going to have to be repaired anyway. He said the city obtained a federal grant for the green roof project and he felt the money should be spent here to improve the city rather than go elsewhere.

Concerning the public art, he said it is one of the "intangibles" that led Volkswagen to select Chattanooga over Huntsville and he said tourists like it.

The speaker was also questioned on whether he is "a rubber stamp" for the mayor. He said he does work closely with the mayor, and "I pick my battles." He said on occasions he and other council members send word to the mayor to back off a planned move. One of those, he said, was the recent naming of Anita Ebersole to be city court clerk.  

He said he had seen election foe Chris Anderson "at only three City Council meetings in a year." He said Mr. Anderson stated that he was busy supervising 150 employees at the Bluff View Art District.

Mr. Rico said he has the time to devote to the City Council post, which he said "is not a part-time job."

He also said, "This is the dirtiest campaign I've seen. People have been mean-spirited." 

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