Early voting for city elections start Feb. 11. The election will be March 5.
A handful of Chattanooga City Council candidates appeared before the Chattanooga Tea Party on Thursday night and demanded that government get its act together.
"I have seen deplorable behavior by our City Council members," Ken Smith, a candidate for District 3 against current Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd.
Smith told the audience of about 70 people it was time to bring "professionalism and respect" back to the council.
Six candidates appeared at the candidates forum sponsored by the Tea Party and the Nightside Pachyderm Club at the Homebuilder's Association off Access Road. Mark West, president of the Chattanooga Tea Party, said several other candidates had been invited but not the incumbents already on council.
"The people generally know where they stand," he said.
One candidate in the District 2 race running against candidates Jerry Mitchell and Roger Tuder said she had not been invited. Mitchell and Tuder attended and spoke.
Candidate Priscilla Simmons did not attend.
"Most would ask all candidates to come," she said. "I find it very strange they wouldn't ask the one woman."
But West said she had been asked by the Nightside Pachyderm Club to attend.
"I thought she would be here," he said.
Mitchell, Smith and Tuder all spoke at the event and answered questions. Also attending were District 1 candidate Jim Folkner and District 3 candidates Larry Grohn and Tom Tomisek.
The theme of the meeting was cutting city government and shifting more money to public safety.
Tuder told the crowd how his wife is scared about her own safety within the city and has now bought a gun.
"My wife never touched a pistol until about three weeks ago," he said.
Mitchell, one of his opponents, talked about cutting government. He said when he served as Parks and Recreation director for six years he did the job the Department of Education, Arts & Culture is now doing.
"We were doing just fine with it the way it was," he said.
Grohn summed up the theme when he spoke.
"I'm constantly asked how are you going to pay for more police?" he said. "More firefighters? I say we have a bloated government."
West announced at the end of the meeting that several Tea Party members had formed a political action committee called Citizens for Government Accountability and Transparency. He said the PAC would be operational within a few days.
"We'll be contributing to candidates," he said.
Cliff has worked for the Times Free Press for five years and covers Chattanooga city government. He previously covered Rhea County, as well as transportation and growth and development in Southeast Tennessee. A native of Maryville, Tenn., Cliff graduated in 2003 from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis on journalism. Before coming to Chattanooga, he was a crime reporter with Hernando Today, a supplement of The Tampa (Fla.) ...