My campaign has now knocked on over 6,000 doors in Stuart Heights, Hixson, Lupton City and the North River neighborhoods. I've sent out surveys and read each response and spent time with hundreds of concerned folks. I have presented the issues and focus of my campaign only after personal contact with thousands of my neighbors throughout District 2; I have no personal agenda nor serve as a political puppet.
While the City Council is tasked to work as a board with the mayor, each member certainly wants to see Chattanooga grow in jobs, in tourism, and see our institutions such as our schools flourish and compete. My campaign has not restated the obvious.
However, the only person who will serve as the voice for the residents and business owners in the Hixson, North River, and Riverview areas is the elected member on the City Council. While the glamour of job creation, education and entrepreneurship make wonderful talking points, the residents of District 2 have some specific concerns that are unmet, despite the taxes they pay for services.
After listening to the citizens of District 2, I want to commit to first actions as a city council member:
While some acknowledge the need to return the Department of Education, Arts, and Culture back to Parks and Recreation, I know it's essential to eliminate Director Crutchfield's $109,000 position due to gross mismanagement immediately.
Each department must be run with oversight, integrity, and consistency. The news stories and current documentation around this specific department shows the tolerance of waste and questionable actions.
I will work immediately with the Public Works Department to go through the entire district to address downed trees, debris and other issues that contribute to flooding problems.
Countless examples have been noted and some already addressed where calls have been unanswered and services have been denied. Property and home values are a priority and keep our neighborhoods intact and growing.
According to the city's own "2012 Community Survey Results" published by the Office of Internal Audit, compared to other districts and to the entire city the greatest percentage of residents in District 2 expressed the need for "improvement to your neighborhood as a place to live."
I will work with our Chattanooga City Police Department to foster a visible and welcomed presence in District 2. I will immediately introduce language to the appropriate committee to allow Chattanooga City Police men and women to drive their patrol cars home as an extension and enhanced presence in our neighborhoods. This will be coupled with my personal involvement to arrange neighborhood watch and personal safety instruction programs.
The same survey from the Office of Internal Audit showed that residents of District 2 reported more break-ins into their home or vehicles than the average of the entire city. Crime in Chattanooga is not limited to tourist destinations and must be addressed.
The specifics I have presented to District 2 residents and to the organizations that represent our local heroes, our first responders, have resulted in the endorsements of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Chattanooga Fire Fighters Association, and the International Brotherhood of Police Officers. I am humbled by this support and understand that these men and women have endured the political promises made during campaigns. My word is no mere campaign promise.
I will work immediately on the list of code violations noted as we canvassed the streets of District 2 that destroy personal property values. The existing codes must be enforced and done so on a timely basis to assure home and property owners that their property will maintain their value.
Obvious examples of dumping, abandoned property, and neglected street maintenance exist throughout the neighborhoods of District 2. City code enforcement is the tool property owners depend upon but are seeing unused.
Meeting neighbors and hearing their concerns has been a sincere honor over the last five months of my campaign. My commitment is simple: I will serve as the voice of residents in District 2 to make our community a great place for families to live, for small businesses to thrive and to be sought as a neighborhood of choice for future residents. Without doubt, I will work and collaborate with other council members and our Mayor on large projects, but my priority will always be my neighbors throughout District 2.