published Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

A voter’s guide

Over the past two weeks, the Free Press editorial page made a series of endorsements in preparation for today’s election. As a service to this page’s readers, we compiled and, in certain cases, updated those endorsement in the hopes of helping voters make an informed decision in the voting booth.

Our candidate endorsements are based on our judgment of each candidate’s competence and ability to succeed in the position for which he or she is running, as well as our assessment about his or her commitment to the conservative principles of limited government, low taxes, fiscal restraint and individual responsibility.

In addition to our candidate endorsements, we took a stance on two ballot questions — the Chattanooga audit ordinance and the Bradley County wheel tax proposal. Those recommendations are based on which outcome will result in a more accountable and responsible government for the residents of Chattanooga and Bradley County.

If a race is not included below, it was either uncontested or we did not endorse a candidate.

State Republican Primary Elections

• United States Senate: Bob Corker

Bob Corker began his career in the Senate with several very fiscally irresponsible votes, including bailouts for banks. Yet he voted against bailouts for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Over the past three years, however, few members of the Senate have been more conservative. His votes against the stimulus and efforts to end earmarks, as well his efforts to cap federal spending and address the debt, are worthy of praise.

• United States House of Representatives, 3rd Congressional District: Chuck Fleischmann

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is a strong conservative with a record of voting to trim the federal budget and a solid plan to eliminate the capital gains tax for two years, which would help to jump start the economy. His support of pouring money into Oak Ridge National Laboratory does little to help taxpayers at this end of the district. Overall, however, Fleischmann has committed no fireable offenses.

• Tennessee Senate, 10th Senatorial District: No endorsement

This page initially endorsed Greg Vital over Todd Gardenhire based on our belief that Vital was slightly more likely to champion free market economic policies than his opponent. In the days since our endorsement, however, we have grown tired of Vital’s alleged dirty campaign tactics and misrepresentations. As a result, we take no position on this race.

• Tennessee House of Representatives, 27th Representative District: Richard Floyd

State House member Richard Floyd has done little to distinguish himself in Nashville, and he is far from the most fiscally conservative lawmaker in the state. Still, his stances are generally rooted in free market, limited government principles.

Hamilton County General Election

• County Mayor: Jim Coppinger

During recent tough fiscal times for the county, incumbent Jim Coppinger chose to close a budget shortfall through attrition, rather than calling for tax hikes. The leaner county government now costs taxpayers millions less, with no noticeable impact in the quality of service county residents receive.

• County Commission, District 3: Marty Haynes

While Democrat Mitzi Yates has a number of praiseworthy ideas to make county government more transparent and accountable, Marty Haynes’ policy proposals for spurring the Hamilton County economy give him the edge. He is committed to promoting low taxes, trimming wasteful spending and streamlining government.

• Assessor of Property: Bill Bennett

Bill Bennett, the county property assessor since 1994, has proven fair and reliable. His method for running the assessor’s office is considered a model for other counties seeking to learn how to appraise property accurately and efficiently.

• General Sessions Court Judge: Gary Starnes

In a close race featuring a number of highly qualified candidates, longtime Chattanooga attorney Gary Starnes stands out with a clear and realistic vision for how the court can improve.

General Sessions Court judges have been roundly criticized for their lackadaisical attitudes towards the court. Starnes’ commitment to putting in the hours needed to do the job effectively is exactly what is needed to bring respectability to the court.

• School Board, District 1: Rhonda Thurman

During her time on the school board, Rhonda Thurman has fought for greater transparency and more educational options for students. Perhaps most importantly, she has been the one school board member consistently willing to ask, “is that a good use of taxpayers hard-earned money?”.

Thurman is both a valuable watchdog for all Hamilton County taxpayers and a powerful advocate for the students of her district.

• School Board, District 2: Jonathan Welch

Jonathan Welch is graduate of District 2 schools and his own children are now students at Thrasher Elementary. As an involved parent, he will be a refreshing outside voice that still possesses a great deal of knowledge about the school system and familiarity with the issues facing educators.

• School Board, District 7: Donna Horn

The race for the school board’s 7th District seat between former teacher Donna Horn and former teacher and principal Ralph Miller features two exceptional candidates.

Voters won’t go wrong either way, but the recently retired Horn has a slight advantage in our view since she has more current classroom experience than Miller. Plus, Horn brings a much-needed female voice to the school board.

City of Chattanooga Municipal Election

• Ordinance No. 12566: Against

The current City of Chattanooga auditing system is seriously flawed. Since the city’s audit director reports to the mayor, he can’t audit anything related to the mayor independently. This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Unfortunately, this proposed ordinance to create a new city audit structure creates serious problems of accountability. The ordinance sets up the current city auditor with a job for life with the probability of a huge pay increase. In order to replace the city auditor, four out of five fellow CPAs — appointed by special interest groups — have to agree to fire him. It’s unlikely that would ever happen.

Rather than replacing one bad system with another, voters should vote against the ordinance and force the city council back to the drawing board.

Bradley County General Election

• Wheel Tax Referendum: No

Wheel tax supporters’ arguments for installing a $32 annual tax on vehicles are absurd. They claim they need to raise nearly $35 million to fund three school construction projects because schools are overcrowded. However, two of the three projects add little, if any, additional capacity for the school district.

This is one of the silliest money grabs we’ve ever seen and we encourage voters to reject this regressive and ridiculous tax.

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
daytonsdarwin said...

Still waiting for one of Vital's supporters to tell me Vital hasn't lied about his college degree for decades. What else has he lied about?

August 2, 2012 at 5:23 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

Your paper is citing Chuck Fleischmann as the winner, but showing vote totals that say Weston Wamp beat him by 100 points.

Do you have a reporter at that paper right now, or what? Did you all go home at six o'clock? Did you let the AP pick the facts for you?

Which one of your articles is a lie? The vote totals or your articles declaring the incorrect winner?

Don't worry. Papers only become the laughing stock when making errors like this in Federal elections. Since this is only a primary, you will only be a local laughing stock for screwing this up.

Get the facts right. Stop screwing around with your slack reporting. Fix the newspaper now.

August 2, 2012 at 11:34 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

Hamilton County Election Commission's website is also reporting a Wamp return of 14,305 votes. Fleischmann only scored 14,204. I look forward to seeing a massive front-page correction tomorrow morning. I hope you've already gone to press with that.

August 2, 2012 at 11:46 p.m.
aae1049 said...

LeslieAnIdiot Vital is a very creepy candidate. Lies about college educaton, and all indicators all he leveraged his career citing he had a college degree.

Political bully that does not need to be our Senator.

August 2, 2012 at 11:59 p.m.
FreePressEditor said...

328Kwebsite- I haven't addressed many commenters, but you're such a massive dope that I feel it necessary.

Wamp won Hamilton County by 101 votes, but Fleischmann won the 11-county district as a whole by about about 6,000 votes.

Did you think the 3rd District only included one county?

-Drew Johnson

August 3, 2012 at 1:21 a.m.
Leaf said...

Well, editor, that was an over-the-top comment you made in the wee hours last night. Sure, 328K is not the brightest bulb in the pack (Weston, is that you?), but perhaps you should hold yourself to a slightly higher standard than the rest of us idiots.

August 3, 2012 at 10:03 a.m.
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