published Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Benson deserves re-election

City Councilman Jack Benson captured 40 percent of the District 4 votes in the March 5 city election, the highest among the five candidates. But with his four opponents fracturing the vote in the District 4 field, he fell short of the 50 percent-plus-one vote total that would have carried him to a fourth term. In the runoff election on April 9, Benson deserves a majority vote for that term.

The case for returning Benson to office over his newcomer challenger, Larry Grohn, weighs heavily in Benson's favor. Benson's valuable and hard-earned experience, his work ethic, his wise and principled positions, his integrity and incorruptibility, and his abiding vision for a balance between the competing commercial and residential needs that are so powerful in District 4, all commend him for another term.

A long-time educator before his retirement, Benson knows the city's neighborhoods, people and infrastructure needs better than anyone else on the incoming City Council. His return to the council clearly would boost the background knowledge that will be sorely needed when the new and largely inexperienced City Council takes office.

Benson's years of experience and his faithful service -- he has missed just one council meeting in 12 years in office -- is well complemented by his strict work ethic and his principled approach to the council's work. Benson doesn't treat his officially part-time office as a part-time job. For him, it's always been a full-time job that requires close study of a range of issues, particularly the zoning battles that he has wisely refereed for years to manage commercial and residential needs around Hamilton Place mall.

By contrast, his tea-party-leaning opponent, Grohn -- a retiree who moved here from Colorado a few years ago and whose level of civic engagement in other states in which he has lived remains largely unknown -- entered the City Council campaign on a questionable basis by misrepresenting Benson's record and positions rather than by showing how he might prove himself by past achievements as a superior candidate.

Grohn has regularly -- and wrongly -- attempted to portray Benson as an unthinking ally of outgoing Mayor Ron Littlefield and developers. In fact, Benson has frequently taken strong positions on key issues against both Littlefield and Hamilton Place developers when he differed with their tax or development policies and commercial proposals.

Benson has been the guiding protector of the community vision that grew out of the District 4 public planning meetings years ago, and he is a strong advocate of strengthening public safety. He is wise, committed and principled enough to stand up and take tough positions when he's called to support proposals that would set bad development precedents or harm the public interest. Indeed, Benson has earned a good reputation around city hall for flatly rejecting campaign donations and under-the-table support that has occasionally been proffered to council members to win their support. He doesn't bend his principles.

Councilman Benson has worked to avoid political partisanship and to support the City Council's traditional avoidance of partisan elections. He is correct to take that stand, especially since the council responsibilities really have nothing to do with the partisan political issues that have so warped elected offices at the state and federal level.

Unfortunately, Grohn and councilman-elect Ken Smith have attempted to rouse support for each other -- and for councilman-elect Chip Henderson -- on the basis of political partisanship. This newspaper's city hall reporter, Cliff Hightower, noted in a front-page story Monday, for example, how Smith introduced Grohn a few weeks ago at a Hamilton County Republican event, saying that "we need him" on the council. "I need him. Chip Henderson needs him," Smith said. Such conduct goes against the nonpartisan grain that traditionally has helped City Council members work collaboratively on public needs without the complication of political gamesmanship.

Benson is better than that. He also is easily the best candidate in his run-off race with Grohn. He merits strong support. We heartily endorse him for re-election.

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aae1049 said...

Comical notion that City Council has "nonpartisan grain," The city council has always been Dem partisan, bringing diversity in principles on the city council is way past due. The current city council is toxic, and that is why all challenged incumbents lost in the March city election. The only challenged Dem left, get it left, is Benson. Start start packin one more to go.

Vote Larry Grohn for District 4.

March 27, 2013 at 12:20 a.m.
MasterChefLen said...

Don't let this article fool you. Jack Benson pretty much green lighted anything Mayor Ron Littlefield wanted. Mr. Annexation himself (Jack Benson) wants Chattanooga to extend its boundaries even further through forced annexation (against the county property owner's will) even though Chattanooga cannot even afford to take care of the city limits as they currently are. Jack Benson needs to join his other Ron Littlefield "rubberstamp" buddies (Pam Ladd, Manny Rico, and Andre McGary) as EX-Chattanooga City Council members.

March 27, 2013 at 12:20 a.m.
AndrewLohr said...

An IHOP on Gunbarrel will compete with existing eateries, or will tie up traffic? Beep beep, Mr Benson.

March 27, 2013 at 6:15 a.m.
fairmon said...

Turn out the lights the party is over for Benson. Chattanooga city voters finally are fed up with spending when not necessary, using tax payer money any way they want to. Under paid, under staffed fire and police departments need to be corrected with money spent friviously in various ways...don't you just love the blue rhino? The city owned businesses are essential? Where does that logic come from? Retire the relic district 4.

March 27, 2013 at 8:02 a.m.
jesse said...

New Mayor,new faces on the city council, Hopefully a new attitude and direction for the city!Was past time for a house cleaning!

March 27, 2013 at 10:46 a.m.
timbo said...

There is less fantasy associated with Harry Potter than with Harry Austin. Austin lives is a socialist dream world.

Austin, like his buddy Jack Benson, is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the POWER STRUCTURE. Both need to go.

March 27, 2013 at 12:46 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Good lord.

March 28, 2013 at 8:54 p.m.
joetheplumber said...

Travel Shallowford Road between Commons and Jenkins on your way to vote. This is a PRIME example of Jack Bensons leadership and the exact same way he has reoresented us on the City Council. First the project was only done for CBL and Ken DeFour. Second, it has cost twice what they estimated, Third it has taken three times longer to complete than scheduled and is still less than half way complete, Fourth, go by any time this week and you will count the numebr of poeple on the job site on one hand (and their hands will be in their pockets, Fifth, ask Jack about it at the gas station (as I did) and he will look at you because he dosen't have a clue, Sixth, thats the project that is located within 4 blocks of his door step and he has to pass it everytime he leaves, JACK - IF THIS IS YOUR EXAMPLE OF LEADERSHIP YOU TOO SHOULD VOTE FOR LARRY. SHALLOWFORD ROAD ALONE HAS ME WORKING AGAINST YOU. Why don't you plaster that road with your "stab em' in the back Jack" re-election posters? With the money you've made off the defour's and CBL you can afford to take a long vacation (or a hike)!

March 29, 2013 at 8:46 p.m.
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