The District 2 Forum

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

We women are all mothers and daughters.  We worry about those we love and we are very good at compartmentalizing.  It goes with the territory.  We are used to cutting through the talk, identifying what needs to be done, and taking care of the issue. 

Last night I attended a candidate forum at Alexian Village.  I want to write, here, about one particular candidate for District 2 County Commission, Elizabeth Baker.

Elizabeth’s opponent, Chip Baker was recovering from surgery and was not able to attend.  We all wish him a speedy recovery.  But here’s what most in the audience didn’t know – yesterday morning Elizabeth’s mother had major surgery and is dealing with serious health issues.  She lives out of state.  Elizabeth faced a dilemma most of us have faced, how to handle both aspects of her life.  Her family held a conference and decided that Elizabeth needed to speak to the community. 

I saw Elizabeth outside the meeting hall in discussion with Chip Baker’s campaign manager, Arch Trimble and the director of Alexian Village.  You have to understand that Elizabeth is five foot three, maybe, and was dwarfed by both men.  She had a resolute look on her face.  After the forum I found out why.  Arch Trimble had insisted that he could answer questions for Chip Baker – he said that that was customary when a candidate could not attend.  I don’t buy that and neither did Elizabeth.  The point she made to me was that there was no way for a candidate to be held accountable for the words of someone else.  She also made the very good point that it wasn’t fair to the attendees.  She held her ground, and it was decided that she would give a five-minute statement and that the campaign manager could give a five-minute statement for Mr. Baker.  That is so very Elizabeth, she held her ground.

When she started her five-minute statement, I was a little worried.  I knew that her mother’s surgery was weighing on her.  But then she started speaking from the heart and the hesitancy was gone.  She spoke passionately about how she felt about running for office – about how she didn’t want to just talk about how things could be better, she wanted to do something about it. 

I doubt a candidate in Hamilton County has ever run for office without placing a hand over heart and pledging transparency and accountability to all citizens.  Few have ever done much to promote transparency once in office.  But transparency is part of Elizabeth’s core.  I’ve watched her fight for it here on Signal Mountain, and she would fight for it as our commissioner.  This is not an empty talking point for her. She’s walked the walk.

 Elizabeth doesn’t drop names as validation – her volunteerism in support of public education (at all levels of government - here and in Pennsylvania) and private sector experience validate her. Her character, practicality and trouble-shooting skills validate her.   

Elizabeth, last night, proved that she was one of us.  She proved that she can stand up for what is right, and push through the challenges that most of us face at one time or another.  We can relate to that, and Elizabeth can relate to us.  She would be an admirable and supremely capable District 2 commissioner.

Melissa Cantrell
Signal Mountain


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