Phil Smartt is truly a homegrown candidate for county commissioner in District 7. Born here, educated in the public schools here, he and Gloria raised their six children here, he built a very successful business here, and he has a life long record of investing himself in helping and serving the people of Chattanooga and Hamilton County. I have found him to be kind, considerate and a forgiving man of utmost integrity.
For some years I have worked alongside Phil in the Hamilton Place Rotary Club, but only recently did I come to truly understand what an outstanding person he is and how much he cares about people and this community. I guess we could say that he is simply a “southern gentleman.”
We southerners have never taken too kindly to carpetbaggers who interject themselves into our lives, and with an air of superiority begin to tell us what we ought to think and what we ought to do. The World English Dictionary defines a carpetbagger as “a politician who seeks public office in a locality where he has no real connections,” “any opportunistic or exploitive outsider.” Clearly, we still have carpetbaggers involved in local politics, but Phil Smartt is not an outsider, but is one of us with a long record of public service.
Don’t be distracted from the real issue by the clamor of carpetbaggers. Some of their drivel states that Phil’s experience on the Hamilton County School Board and the Hamilton County Waste Water Treatment Authority are not meaningful because he was appointed, rather than elected, to those positions. Well, duh. Anyone who has been here a long time would know that when Phil served in those positions, all Board members were appointed. Yes, all School Board members were appointed. Our school board was appointed, not elected. When a school board member resigned and a vacancy occurred, the County Commission, acting according to state law, agreed with Commission Chairman Harold Coker and unanimously appointed Phil to the School Board. While serving on that board his peers, the other members of the Hamilton County School Board, elevated him to chairman of the Board. They saw a man who possessed great leadership skills, and when combined with his commitment, dedication and perseverance those other board members knew Phil would make an excellent leader for the good of Hamilton County schools. The same scenario played out in regard to the Waste Water Treatment Authority. Then County Mayor Claude Ramsey had the task of appointing all of the county appointments to the WWTA. It was Mayor Ramsey who appointed Phil, and again it was his peers from the WWTA who asked him to serve as chairman of the WWTA. So once again, it was those who watched Phil work and saw his fervor for and loyalty to this community, that he was elevated to a major leadership role.
Phil does understand what it takes to get things done. The carpetbaggers have suggested that Mr. Smartt’s assertion that his experience on the School Board will have little to no value, and they have stated that the County Commission is only a “pass-thru agency” as far as education is concerned. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, state and federal fund coming to Hamilton County for education could be called pass-thru funds. However, state and federal money constitutes less than half of the money needed to operate Hamilton County Schools. More than 50 percent of the local education budget is funded by the County Commission through local property and sales taxes. Phil Smartt has vast experience working in that world.
The carpetbaggers have also “wondered out loud” about a past civil lawsuit involving Mr. Smartt, and even stated that they could not find out what happened to the suit. Either by not looking, or simply not stating what they already knew, that lawsuit was dismissed decades ago. Phil Smartt has an unsoiled record of service, and the level of experience that other smart leaders recognized when they elevated him to chairman on more than one occasion. I think that experiences matters. Don’t you agree?
First it was the attempt to cast dispersion on Candidate Smartt’s religious convictions. Now some of those who speak for Candidate Turner have resorted to an attempt to discredit the character of Phil Smartt. By the way, they have also made assassination attempts on Candidate Perkins character. Why would a candidate for our County Commission, a place where our citizens place their trust and their money, not speak up and disassociate from so-called dirty politics? I actually asked that question of several of the patriarchs of the Republican Party in Hamilton County. To a person they expressed displeasure and disgust in how one campaign has continued to maliciously attack the other campaigns.
Here’s a novel idea for the voters of District 7 - why not cast your vote for the candidate who has sought to earn your vote by selling themselves, their dedication, proven performance, experience, and potential effectiveness. If a candidate and campaign cannot do that, it typically turns to a game of distraction and unsavory tactics.
I support Phil Smartt, not just because he is my fellow Rotarian, but because I settled in my mind that he is best able to represent my best interest as my county commissioner.
Resident: County/ District 7; City/District 4
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My parents, Phil and Gloria Smartt, taught me and my siblings certain guiding principles by which we should live our lives. Like many of you, one principle taught was - Do What Jesus Would Do. A companion principle often emphasized in the Smartt home was - - Do What Is Right; Let the Consequence Follow.
For any undecided voters in District 7, a vote for Phil Smartt is a vote for a public servant who will do what is right even if the expected consequence is difficult. I offer only a few of many examples of how my father has demonstrated he is committed to doing what is right:
(1) Dad opposes the $100,000 annual fund given to each commissioner to spend however the commissioner chooses. This fund is the type of power that tends to corrupt. Dad will do what is right and put the taxpayer first by rejecting the use of this fund.
(2) Dad puts public education first. Dad opted to send his children to public schools and to become part of the solution. Dad fought on the front lines to improve public education by serving as a member of the school board. As a member of the school board, he worked to improve education in numerous ways, including voting each of the many years he served to give teachers a raise.
(3) Dad accepted Jesus as his Savior as a young man. Since then, his faith has, at times, been challenged and even ridiculed. Sabrena Turner’s campaign attacked Dad’s (and my) faith and shamefully no public apology has been offered. Dad did then what he has always done in response to such ignorant and wrong attacks; he stood firm in his faith and the principles it teaches.
District 7, do what is right and vote for Phil Smartt. You will be pleased with the consequences that follow.
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I am writing in support of the candidacy of Phil Smartt for the 7th District seat on the Hamilton County Commission. It has been my pleasure to know Phil for the past 35 years I have lived in Chattanooga, since graduating from law school. I have seen Phil in action both in multiple church leadership roles, governmental leadership roles such as serving on the Hamilton County School Board and the Wastewater Treatment Authority Board, as the owner of a small business and as a leader in local politics. Phil has been my hero in all of these areas. He not only works tirelessly, but he knows how to get things done. I have seen him move mountains where other people said that it could not have been done.
More importantly, he is a man of integrity, a true believer and follower of Christ. He lives his faith both in his professional, political and personal lives. I have watched him and his wonderful wife Gloria raise their six children from childhood into productive adult persons who are valuable assets to their communities.
Of the candidates running for District 7, Phil by far has the most impressive and valuable credentials. He has years of public service in the community that neither of his opponents have. He has years of wisdom of experience that they can look forward to accumulating someday in the future. Hands down, Phil Smartt is simply the best choice and I endorse him wholeheartedly.
Harry B. Ray