published Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Teddy Harris elected mayor of Rossville

Teddy Harris is congratulated by his friends Mike and Teresa Hillis after receiving the news of his election as mayor of Rossville Tuesday evening at the Rossvile Civic Center.
Teddy Harris is congratulated by his friends Mike and Teresa Hillis after receiving the news of his election as mayor of Rossville Tuesday evening at the Rossvile Civic Center.
Photo by Jenna Walker.


Teddy Harris: 225

Bill Eaves: 186


(top two vote totals)

Hal Gray: 246

Cindy Bradshaw: 222

Johnny Baker: 186

Charles Wilson: 75

Jesse Harrell: 46

City Councilman Teddy Harris, who supported Rossville's ventures to help revitalize downtown with city-sponsored projects, beat Bill Eaves in the mayor's race.

Harris, 48, said Rossville has a bright future, but "it's going to take a long time to dig us out. [Rossville's] potential is exciting."

Current Mayor Johnny Baker lost his bid for a City Council seat, coming in third behind the top two vote-getters -- Hal Gray and Cindy Bradshaw.

Attempts to reach Eaves after the election were unsuccessful.

Several of Harris' supporters said they voted for him because they want to see Rossville grow and thought he was right man for the job.

June Thomas said she supported Harris because she believed he would step up and make the best decisions without being pressured.

"I think he's his own man," she said.

"I think [city involvement] could work if done the right way," said Rossville resident Dennis Rhea, who voted for Harris.

Both candidates disputed how local government should be involved in the city's potential growth. Specifically, the men disagreed on the city-sponsored group's involvement in buying and reselling the iconic restaurant Roy's Diner.

Rossville leaders bought the building and 1.2 acres of land around it for $110,000 in September 2010, pulling money from city reserves. The city sold it to a man with no restaurant experience, who closed it after six months. The diner recently reopened under new management.

"I don't think the city needs to be in the financing business," Eaves said in a previous interview.

Eaves, 69, a former Rossville fire chief, said he had heard from many voters who were upset with the way the Rossville Downtown Development Authority handled the restaurant's acquisition and resale.

But Harris openly supported the downtown development authority and, after he won Tuesday, said he hopes to continue with more projects in the future.

"I'm really excited about the RDDA," he said. "They're not going to be a political football."

Meanwhile, Eaves' supporters said they agreed with his hands-off approach.

"He's just a smart guy who knows what's going on," said Jesse Harrell, an Eaves suppporter who ran in the City Council race but came in last.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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