On Aug. 29 of last year, Jim Coppinger convened a press conference on the courthouse steps to announce that he was raising property taxes. The mayor and commission gave no notice; the deal was already done.
Seven days later County Commission passed the tax hike on its first reading. Citizens were never invited to comment on the matter.
Is this any way to run Hamilton County government?
For far too long, good ol’ boy, backdoor politics have been standard practice in Hamilton County, and for seven years County Mayor Coppinger has been the champion of these maneuvers. It’s time for change.
As Hamilton County’s next mayor, I will invite every citizen to participate in their government. In my first week on the job, I’ll call on County Commission to pass a comprehensive measure designed to guarantee transparency and citizen access in all aspects of county government. It will include the following reforms:
Hold County Commission meetings later in the day, at a time when more citizens may attend
Require County Commission to consider all ordinances after a second reading
Tax ordinances shall be considered after a third reading
Commission agendas shall be posted online one week prior to meetings
The mayor and full County Commission shall conduct quarterly town hall meetings in different venues around the community
On a local radio program on May 3 of this year, Jim Coppinger stated that, "The mayor is not subject to the Sunshine Law." Using the technicalities of our state’s Sunshine Law as cover for raising taxes without accountability is a breach of the public faith. County Mayor Coppinger needs to tell us why he feels it necessary to conduct the people’s business in the dark.
The answer, of course, is that it’s not necessary at all. Doing county business outside of public view is simply a choice that the mayor makes.
I will serve as mayor within the full light of public scrutiny, holding myself and the County Commission accountable in every step of the legislative process. In the Brown administration, because we’ve always done it that way, will no longer be acceptable in Hamilton County government.
Hamilton County Mayoral Candidate