Vote For Chip Baker

Monday, July 23, 2018

Please vote for Chip Baker for Hamilton County commissioner in District 2. I know he will be a dedicated servant to our community. I have worked closely with Chip since he arrived in Chattanooga to become the administrator of Children’s Hospital. When reading Chip’s credentials, my fellow Foundation Board members and I were impressed by the fact of his being the youngest hospital CEO in America at the age of 27. While at Children’s he was responsible for more than a thousand employees and volunteers and a budget of over $66 million in annual revenue.

Chip is fiscally conservative and dedicates himself to not only staying committed to his budgets but always is searching for ways to make wise decisions on how to cut expenses while increasing productivity as was the case at Children’s Hospital where he was able to cut the budget by 20 percent and increased productivity. While there he also established a school health program that served over 45,000 local students. Also while at Children’s, under Chip’s tenure the Pediatric Oncology Department moved from its drab one room area without windows to its now large one floor space with many windows, art on the wall and a space where the some of the sickest of the sick now understand they are loved and that they matter.

Another project that Chip spearheaded while he was the head of Children’s was the Emergency Room. He lead the Capital Campaign - working with many of the community leaders to raise the monies to build a much needed new emergency room.

After Chip became the director of Friends of the Festival (Riverbend) I also had the opportunity to work closely with him as a member of the Board of Directors and as a member of the Executive Committee. Chip came to Riverbend when the festival was in the “red” and there was a real threat that it would not be able to survive another couple of years unless big changes took place. In one year, Chip was able to put the festival back into the black. Chip and his staff have grown our festival into one of the most respected festivals in the United States. 

Chip is the type of person that if he sees a problem he becomes a part of the solution to the problem rather than a person who simply wants to talk about the problem. I’ve seen this characteristic of his personality in every aspect of every task that he has ever been involved. One example of this is the reason that he ran for and was elected to the Hamilton County School Board. During his three terms on the school board which included him being the chairman for three years, he worked with the residents on Signal Mountain and Walden to build the Signal Mountain Middle/High School and Normal Park Upper School School and was also able to help develop plans for the new Red Bank Middle School. He has served as a student mentor in the statewide Tennessee Achieves program. 

I have had the unique experience of having a front row seat working with Chip since he came to Chattanooga. I have experienced how he seeks out private business leaders, elected community leaders, and interested individuals when needing to solve challenges that arise. I’ve witnessed his level headed approach to solve many difficult tasks. He has developed many relationships in our community that have given him great insights and perspectives in a multitude of the important matters of Hamilton County. I appreciate Chip’s analytical mind - by breaking problems into working pieces - he is able to find solutions that work for the greater good. 

A vote for him would be a wise vote for each individual because in all of the years that I have know him I have always known of him treating everyone he meets fairly and with respect. It doesn’t matter to him about height - weight - the street you live on - political party - gender - race. Chip cares. Chip will bring his unique ability to represent the majority while never forgetting the rights of the individual. 

I also know Chip as a philanthropist. When I first met Chip he was proud to tell me about his mother, Mary Lou, who was given the volunteer of the year award in their hometown. This made Chip very proud and we have had many discussions about our roles in the community about volunteerism. Part of his value system includes giving back to your community and it was taught to him by example rather than lecturing.

Chip has been a source of information and support for every event and cause that I have supported, however, he has also been active as a Board member for the Ronald McDonald, Make A Wish and the Children’s Advocacy Center. He is currently on the Chattanooga Area Chamber of
Commerce and the Chattanooga Convention and Visitor Bureau as well as a member of the Chattanooga Rotary Club.

I was recently asked “why at your age are you still volunteering for Riverbend?” My answer was  easy - “two reasons, 1.) Chip and Karlette Baker. 2.) I love the idea that Riverbend provides almost a $30 million economic impact to the Hamilton County economy."

I strongly believe that families should be off limits in political discussions of any type, however, this one time I must go against my own beliefs. Why? Not only have I worked and volunteered with Chip but I love his family as my own. Karlette and Chip are the friends that became family. They are the three o’clock in the morning friends who will take you to the hospital friends or in other words- friends who would do anything in the world for you. It’s not that I am special, it is because they are special in how they care for others which can be contributed to their over abundance of grace and kindness in their hearts. Their children are a source of pride. Each of them is different in his/her own way, Shea is living in the heart of New York wildly successful, Skyler living in Knoxville living his dream as an engineer and Sullivan and Sophie are still at the University of Tennessee. I always say the Bakers get their orange blood from me since I was there when each of them were born. These young people are just like Karlette and Chip. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that they are the three o’clock in the morning friends too. They learned that by example and not by lecture. Just as Chip did. 

Please vote for my friend Chip Baker. He has the experience - he has the ability to work with people from all walks of life - but most of all - he will represent you as a friend and treat you as he would want to be treated. 

Judy Bellenfant

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