published Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Chattanooga same-sex benefits petition more than a third complete

  • photo
    Mark West, president of Citizens for Government Accountability and Transparency, drops off 1,634 signatures petitioning challenging the Chattanooga same-sex partner benefit ordinance to Brenda Hixson at the Hamilton County Election Commission on Monday. The remaining 2,900 signatures need to be collected within the next four days for the ordinance to be on the general election ballot in 2014.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
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The petition challenging Chattanooga's same-sex partner benefits is more than a third of the way complete.

But time is of the essence.

Mark West, president of Citizens for Government Accountability and Transparency, is organizing the effort to collect the 4,500 signatures necessary to petition City Council's 5-3 approval of the ordinance from last week.

Citizens have two weeks from the vote -- until Dec. 3 -- to reach that watermark.

At 4 p.m. Monday, West dropped off his stack of collected signatures -- 1,634 he said -- at the Hamilton County Election Commission.

With about 2,900 signatures left to go, West said the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend will be integral to the petition's success.

"The people of Chattanooga will decide if we meet this deadline," West said. "There's still four days of a long holiday weekend we have to overcome it."

West and CGAT have promoted the petition through seven digital billboards, as well as radio spots and Internet advertisements.

At least five area churches provided copies of the petition during Sunday services yesterday, though West said "dozens and dozens" of community organizations have been reaching out to him.

Some proponents of the same-sex partner benefits remain optimistic about the ordinance's future.

"I wouldn't say I'm concerned, even if they get their signatures," said Collegedale Police Department Detective Kat Cooper, who has publicly support the ordinance, proposed by City Councilman Chris Anderson. "As far as my interactions have gone with the community, and seeing as much support as we've had, we will beat them at the ballot box."

Contact staff writer Jeff LaFave at or 423-757-6592.

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