A longtime public education champion with a background in both public and private enterprise has announced she is seeking the seat of retiring District 2 Hamilton County Commissioner Jim Fields.
Elizabeth Baker, a Signal Mountain resident and member of the transition team appointed last year by Dr. Bryan Johnson, Hamilton County School Superintendent, said she is committed to economic development, government transparency and “keeping schools, businesses and neighborhoods safe.”
“I will also pledge to fairly represent every corner of my district and value all of my constituents in District 2, from Walden to Lupton City ,” Ms.
This is the first time Ms. Baker has sought political office, she said. She is running, she noted, so that District 2 voters will have a choice of candidates.
Until she announced, the only person seeking the district 2 seat was Republican businessman and former school board member Chip Baker.
While she and her opponent share the same last name, they are not related and have different backgrounds, according to Ms. Baker, who filed as a Democrat.
“I’m not the product of the political world,” she said. “My background is in advocacy for better stronger communities. I first considered running for this position because I believe a contest election creates a more in-depth conversation and allows voters the choice for what is best for their community.”
In announcing her candidacy, Ms. Baker stressed her “more than 16 years experience as an education policy researcher, advocate, and community liaison.”
Her breadth of skill and knowledge include working at a district level to provide parents with an understanding of policy, she said, as well as working with elected officials at the state level to ensure proactive changes within the public education system.
Ms. Baker said she has used her experience as “an outspoken, experienced advocate for public education and engagement within communities” to champion public education on Signal Mountain and throughout Hamilton County during the past year.
In September 2017, she noted, she was appointed to the Hamilton County Department of Education Superintendent’s Transition Team, where she worked on the Stakeholder Engagement Sub-Committee and her focus was on Family Engagement in Communications.
Ms. Baker said she is a dedicated promoter of the public school system, and believes successful schools are the foundation of successful communities.
“When the community comes together and invests in its public schools, everyone wins,” Ms. Baker said. “All citizens must be given an opportunity to be heard and be part of the process. As county commissioner, one of my priorities will be to work with residents so that they can be more engaged on all topics affecting our county.”
In addition to advocating for public school systems, Ms. Baker said she has extensive solution-based business experience and is a skilled contract negotiator, focused on developing strong, diverse relationships.
It was those skills, Ms. Baker said, which helped her develop start-up recycling businesses in her home state.
“As a result, over a million pounds of non-biodegradable materials were kept out of local landfills,” she said.
Ms. Baker said she will use her public and private sector experience to champion comprehensive planning for economic development and growth.
“Economic development without collaboration across all functions of county government does not produce the best results for citizens or existing businesses,” she said. “We need to be poised to take advantage of our unique strengths. We need to position ourselves to attract good paying, sustainable, permanent jobs.”
Passionate about improving services for seniors and children, Ms. Baker said, “We must do a better job of empowering all segments of our society by actively listening to their concerns.”
“Strong communities value all of their citizens,” she said. “I will focus on keeping schools, businesses and neighborhoods safe. I pledge to work tirelessly to facilitate transparency in government. Government works best when the business of the people is conducted in the open.”
“I will also pledge to fairly represent every corner of my district and value all of my constituents in District 2, from Walden to Lupton City .”
Ms. Baker, her husband Brian and their three children moved from Pennsylvania to Signal Mountain.