published Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Time to endorse: After 28 interviews it's time to name election favorites

On March 5, Chattanooga voters will select a new mayor and nine City Council members from among 28 candidates. Beginning tomorrow, the Free Press editorial page will devote five days to endorsing candidates for each of these offices -- culminating with our endorsement for mayor on Sunday.

While some newspaper editorial pages have chosen to shy away from endorsements in recent years, it remains the policy of the Free Press to endorse candidates that best reflect the page's long-standing commitment to free market, limited government principles.

Over the past two weeks, representatives of both the Times and Free Press pages spoke with 27 of the 28 candidates whose names will appear on the March 5 ballot. We gave each candidate half an hour to explain their positions and answer questions.

During the interviews, it became clear that several concerns are common among almost all candidates. Candidates almost universally promise to address Chattanooga's perceived crime problem, for example. Most agree that our city's police officers should be paid more -- and there should be more of them.

There is a majority, but not unanimous, view that Chattanooga's property taxes are high enough and city leaders should work to prioritize spending, rather than push for tax hikes.

When asked what services could be reduced, eliminated or run more efficiently to save tax dollars, a number of candidates recommended selling the heavily taxpayer subsidized Memorial Auditorium and merging the Department of Education, Arts & Culture back into Parks and Recreation, as it was before Mayor Ron Littlefield turned the bureaucracy into its own agency.

Almost all candidates agree there are opportunities to consolidate certain services that are performed both by the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County and save both the city and the county money. Parks and recreation, and the building inspection and business licensing process were commonly mentioned as services ripe for consolidation.

Our endorsements are based on such questions as, who best reflects the Free Press' desire for an open, more transparent government, who will be the best steward of taxpayers' hard-earned dollars and who understands that Chattanoogans are often best served when government does less, not more.

The greatest goal of an editorial page is to generate public debate and encourage civic involvement. Nothing does that quite like endorsing candidates for office. As long as that's the case, the Free Press page will continue endorsing great candidates.

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gjuster said...

Personally, I'm endorsing Andrae McGary in District 8. We disagree on most everything, but he will listen to reason and not be run by the power structure in Chattanooga.

February 12, 2013 at 8:23 a.m.
BigRidgeGOP said...

I look forward to reading your editorial, but District 3 needs new representation.

What Pam Ladd says on the campaign trail and in various public meetings DOES NOT align with her voting record and DOES NOT reflect how this community views government -- smaller, more transparent and held accountable to the taxpayers.

Since taking office nearly four years, we have seen Pam vote to increase our property taxes and city fees, approve a special tax incentive for developers on Aetna Mountain, and silence taxpayer concerns about government waste and abuse. She also voted to use tax dollars to fund public art, River City and many other pet projects while the budgets for our Fire and Police Departments and Public Works go underfunded.

Yes, we need an open, more transparent and smaller city government, but unfortunately, this is not what we have seen from Pam Ladd.

February 12, 2013 at 10:29 a.m.
Handleit said...

This time I have to agree with BRG. Although I do not in district 3, I do live in district 2 which has seen the same actions from Robinson. Thankfully our rep is not running for re-election. I would urge voters to not re-elect any of the present representatives on the city council. For that matter, I would not vote for anyone supported by the present regime. We need fresh blood on the city council. We need people that will look at the issues objectively and vote as if the money were coming from their pocket.

February 12, 2013 at 12:27 p.m.
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