Public Safety Is Why I’m Voting For Ken Smith

Monday, February 25, 2013

I, along with many others in Hixson, have been greatly disappointed by Pam Ladd’s leadership during the past four years. Today, we have roads that have gone neglected due to underfunded budgets supported by Pam Ladd.  People are scared in their own homes because gangs and crime problems were ignored far too long by Mayor Littlefield and Pam Ladd. These issues are real, and they are top of mind as people consider who to support in the upcoming city election. 

This week I received an automated call and a mailer from Pam Ladd touting her strong support of our public safety officers and their needs.  Unfortunately, these words ring hollow to those who know Pam’s voting record on this issue. Despite voting to increase our property taxes by 19 percent nearly three years ago, the City Council continues to underfund the essential needs of our city services, especially fire and police.

For example, the police staffing levels have remained flat during the past four years.  During this same time period, the police department had to cover a larger area due to annexation and service a larger population during a period when local crimes and gang-related shootings were dominating the headlines. Yes, the City Council has recently funded a police academy, but the police and fire departments are still understaffed based on independent, third-party recommendations and will only worsen when a large number of senior police officers and firefighters are scheduled to retire later this year. I question Pam’s vote to park police cars, which lowers the level of police presence on our streets and in our neighborhoods.  I also wonder why she voted against giving police officers and firefighters the same percentage pay raise that she voted to give all other city employees.   

And, Pam voted to eliminate overtime benefits and reduce injured-on-duty benefits for our police officers and firefighters.  This is Pam’s real voting record, and this voting record does not represent someone who supports fire and police on the key issues that affect them and their families.

As public awareness of the public safety issues increased, some of our local officials actually said the city’s crime rate was not as bad as some critics were saying. I did some research to find out what the facts say on this issue, and the stats are scary.  While the homicide and burglary rates may be down slightly in 2012 compared to 2011 (down 4 percent and 3 percent respectively), the number of felony crimes is generally up in key areas, such as rape (up 19 percent), robbery (up 23 percent), aggravated assaults (up 17 percent), larceny (up 6 percent) and auto theft (up 23 percent).  In all, the overall crime rate for the city has increased 6.9 percent when compared to 2011 stats while the number of calls for service increased by 4.19 percent.  These are facts that cannot be disputed.

My point is crime is a serious issue that has and continues to impact everyone in Hixson and throughout our city.  During her four years on the City Council, Pam has not led on this issue as she tried to claim in her campaign materials.  When comparing both candidates in the District 3 City Council race, all three public safety unions – the Chattanooga Firefighters Association, Local #820; the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local #673 and the Fraternal Order of Police Officers, Rock City Lodge #22 – unanimously endorsed one candidate in this race – Ken Smith.

The members of all three public safety groups work the front lines every day to protect our homes and serve this community. They are the “true experts” on public safety, and they understand the challenges and public safety issues our community face today and will face in the future.  Local police officers, firefighters and their families are supporting Ken Smith because they believe he has the right vision for our community and is the best person to represent their concerns and our public safety concerns on the City Council. 

I encourage you to join me on election day as I stand with local firefighters and police officers and cast my vote for Ken Smith to be the next District 3 City Council representative. 

Vince Butler

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