published Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Littlefield seeks new visions for city


by Cliff Hightower
Audio clip

Ron Littlefield

Mayor Ron Littlefield said Monday that, as a group of young professionals begin a new visioning effort for Chattanooga, he hopes to recruit some of those same people to help lead his own four-year agenda.

“I hope that some of them will come in with their special talents and do the nitty-gritty work,” he said. “I don’t see this as my agenda. I see this as their agenda.”

Three weeks ago, the mayor laid out a far-reaching agenda that included consolidation of some city and county entities, creating a regional water and sewer authority and implementing the city’s growth plan by annexing new land.

On Sunday, a group of Chattanooga professionals, calling themselves Chattanooga Stand, launched a new visioning effort to plot the future of Chattanooga and the region.

Josh McManus, co-founder of CreateHere and one of the young professionals spearheading Stand, said Monday he thinks the visioning effort could be complementary to the mayor’s agenda. But it also could be different, depending upon the responses of the 25,000 people the group aims to sign up for its survey, he said.

“You could see a theme back of efficiency,” he said. “You could see a laser focus on other issues.”

Some of those issues could be better education or handling crime, he said. But the only agenda that Stand has is what will be laid out by the respondents to the survey, he said.

Wade Hinton, a local attorney and member of Stand, said the group’s goal “is not to promote an agenda. We don’t have an agenda.”

Mr. Littlefield said there is a difference in what the two groups are doing. Stand’s efforts are more “visionary,” while his are specifically focused on the details, he said.

At the same time, there is room at the table for both, he said.

“I think what they are doing is very compatible with what I want done,” he said.

Mr. Littlefield has talked about the possibility of recruiting young professionals to help drive his agenda. In previous comments, he talked specifically about gaining recruits from the ranks of Leadership Chattanooga and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Public Administration department.

Diane Parks, director of leadership and community development for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said she has been contacted by the mayor’s office to provide a list of past graduates of the Leadership Chattanooga program.

When it comes to recruiting people to their particular causes, there shouldn’t be any competition between Chattanooga Stand and the mayor’s office, Ms. Parks said. There are plenty of young professionals in Chattanooga who could help, she said.

“I think some of the young people would do both things,” she said.

  • Learning from Vision 2000
    During a Times Free Press editorial board meeting, Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield discussed how the city learned from the Vision 2000 efforts of the 1980s.
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