published Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Present and future mayors

A news story on Page 1 of Sunday’s Times Free Press reminded us of some important things concerning the office of the mayor of Chattanooga.

One is that Mayor Ron Littlefield, under the law that limits a mayor’s terms, has just two more years in office. He can’t run for re-election. So what will Littlefield want to accomplish before he departs?

A second big question is, who and how many will aspire to run for the office of mayor in a wide-open race? Since there will be no incumbent running, the campaign may begin early. Candidates for mayor may soon start putting their fingers to the wind to determine whether they have much public support.

And a third question is, what will be the big issues and what are the proposals related to those issues that the candidates for mayor will introduce in their campaigns?

Littlefield has said that before he leaves office, he would like to see Chattanooga and Hamilton County governments consolidated into a single government. Will he be able to usher in such an overhaul in two years — or will that become an issue for the future?

As for potential candidates, a number of our current city and county officials — as well as many in city and county government in the past — have been successful in attracting jobs. (The Volkswagen manufacturing plant is the “jewel in our crown.”) But we can’t rest on our laurels, so who do you think would be a good candidate for mayor. What might that candidate or others propose to attract more business and industry and thus to grow jobs?

On other issues, what about the further beautification of our city? We have a lovely geographic setting, with eye-catching features such as Lookout Mountain, Signal Mountain, Missionary Ridge and the Tennessee River. But all of us surely admit that several of our main city streets are less than attractive. Some key thoroughfares, frankly, appear trashy, and that can affect economic development as well as quality of life.

We have good garbage and sewer service, and recreational fields and parks are pretty good. There are other obvious positives for the city, too.

But what major considerations — such as questions about taxes — will confront the next candidates for mayor?

The race is not immediately at hand. But time flies. And with the next mayoral election wide open, it wouldn’t hurt for potential candidates to develop clear and sound positions on the issues now, well before they present themselves to voters.

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