Mayor: Coppinger is best choice
* Population: 348,673
* 18 or older: 275,450
* Registered voters: 206,020
* Bachelor's degree or higher: 28 percent
* Median household income: $46,544
* May jobless rate: 6.2 percent
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, state Department of Labor
Mayor Jim Coppinger is the best Aug. 7 choice in his re-election bid against independent candidate Richard Ford of Birchwood.
Coppinger’s challenger prefers pressed overalls to suits — which you might think is not such a bad thing until he tells you that his hero is the late and infamous Tennessee moonshiner, Popcorn Sutton.
Coppinger was appointed county mayor in January 2011 by county commissioners after former Mayor Claude Ramsey left to join the administration of Gov. Bill Haslam. Coppinger later was elected mayor in a 2012 special election. He has been and is slowly growing into the job.
Though a Republican, Coppinger was a good partner with Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke to keep the city and county in the running for Volkswagen’s planned new sports utility vehicle manufacturing line at the Chattanooga VW assembly plant — even while most state GOP leaders were doing everything in their power to grandstand against the United Auto Workers and unions as VW invited UAW in to help the automaker mold a legal way to have a works council.
Coppinger kept his head down and threaded the needle that state lawmakers couldn’t even find as they wrote an economic incentive contract they thought would give them control over a unionization threat.
In the end, that backfired, thankfully not so much so that Hamilton County lost jobs. Meanwhile, Coppinger quietly stood to the side, kept up talks with VW, made a difference and showed his ability as county mayor to stretch in his new leadership role.
Yes, he still has some evolving to do: He and many on the current nine-member County Commission seem to thumb their noses again and again at the public’s right to know and at taxpayer accountability. The best example was the blatant non-discussion — at least publicly — of what new and expanded school facilities would be funded and why. Instead, he went along with Commission Chairman Fred Skillern when Skillern asked him not to announce in a commission meeting his recommendation what new school building projects the commission should undertake. Coppinger announced that he would meet one-on-one with each commissioner to discuss his thoughts.
In a later meeting with the Times Free Press, he said, “We need to all stay in our lanes. I stay in my lane.”
Sometimes, Mayor, you might just need to take advantage of the passing lane — or the road’s shoulder — and lead. Sort of like you did with the UAW nonsense.
The August election will put some new faces on the County Commission, bringing younger, better, more innovative ideas to our county government.
That will be a time to grow the county’s 80 new or expanded businesses and 7,000 new jobs of recent years to still higher numbers.
That will be a time for the county to work with Erlanger hospital and find a way to pay more than just $1.5 million toward the some $90 million in indigent and charity care that the hospital has been writing off yearly.
It is likely to be a time of growth — economically and in leadership — for Coppinger, the county and all of us.
We endorse that.
State House District 27: Hazlewood better GOP pick; McRoy for Democrats
HOUSE DISTRICT 27
Includes much of the western portion of Hamilton County and five municipalities: Signal Mountain, Walden, Lookout Mountain, Soddy-Daisy, and Red Bank, as well as Flat Top, Falling Water,Mowbray, a portion of Chattanooga and unincorporated parts of the county.
Registered voters: About 45,000
Patsy Hazlewood, a former telecommunication executive and retired state economic development regional director, is the clear choice on the Aug. 7 Republican primary ballot for Tennessee House District 27.
Eric McRoy, a former health care technician and now a computer networking technician, is the good and only choice on the Aug. 7 Democratic primary ballot for that same seat. He has no primary challenger.
Hazlewood is all about improving Tennessee education, helping get Hamilton County’s fair share of state education money, but she won’t commit that Tennessee should expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to take advantage of millions in federal money that we taxpayers have and will spend regardless of whether Tennessee is helped or not because our governor is playing partisan politics.
McRoy’s 62-year-old Signal Mountain mother is one of millions of Tennesseans who doesn’t have health insurance.
“It’s just not acceptable to continue to let our middle class fade out,” he says. “We (Tennessee) need to expand Medicaid. There’s no question about that.”
Hazlewood’s only remaining opponent on the GOP ballot, Tommy Crangle, is a twice-retired engineer who leans heavily toward the tea party. He has been endorsed by Chattanooga’s Citizens for Government Accountability and Transparency — the same tea party-leaning group leading the ballot effort to overturn Chattanooga’s domestic partner ordinance.
Crangle opposes Common Core, is a proponent of gas fracking, says beauty salons are more regulated than abortion clinics and “an armed society is a safe and free society.” He also says the Hall Income Tax must go and go quickly: “If towns need money, why not tax their own?”
Hazlewood, as a state economic development official, has a realistic view of education and taxation. She says Tennessee needs a tweaked Common Core, which was created by a group of state governors, so that our children can compete in the job market.
“I’ve sat at the table with companies who say they have jobs but can’t find people to fill them,” she said.
Cutting the Hall tax would have to be gradual, she said.
If Democrats are thinking of picking up a GOP ballot to ensure a reasonable choice in November for the 3rd District Congressional seat, it wouldn’t be bad to give our state a reasonable choice in House District 27, as well.
We endorse McRoy on the Democratic ballot and Hazlewood on the Republican ballot.