Mayors want city, county to thrive together

Mayors want city, county to thrive together

February 5th, 2011 by Cliff Hightower in News

THE STORY SO FAR

County Mayor Jim Coppinger supported and donated to Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield's opponent in Littlefield's 2005 election campaign. Littlefield, in turn, lobbied for Mike Carter, who was seeking the county mayor post, in December as Carter and Coppinger battled for the position. The County Commission selected Coppinger to succeed outgoing former mayor Claude Ramsey

Old political battles hold no weight in moving the city and county forward over the next two years, both the city and county mayor said last week.

"What people need to see is we are all working together," Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said. "Just because you support someone does not mean you are against someone [else]."

Coppinger and Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield have a political history. Coppinger supported Littlefield's opponent, Ann Coulter, in the 2005 city mayor's election. In the recent county mayor race, Littlefield lobbied for Mike Carter, who was vying against Coppinger.

Littlefield said the history means nothing to him.

"I don't hold any ill will on past political things," he said.

The city and county share interest in several issues in coming months. A first step will be hashing out a new sales-tax agreement between the two; the current one is set to expire in May.

Coppinger also said he wants to talk about growth and economic development. Littlefield wants discussions on consolidating the two governments and how the city and county will handle upcoming political redistricting.

Littlefield said he has worked with political opponents in the past and said he has known the new county mayor since Coppinger's early days as a young firefighter in the Chattanooga Fire Department.

Other elected officials from the city and county are talking to one another as well.

Hamilton County Commission Chairman Larry Henry and City Council Chairman Manny Rico confirmed Monday that they discussed holding joint meetings.

"The commission and council play a big part in this equation," Henry said.

Rico said Littlefield worked well with former Mayor Claude Ramsey, and he expects the same thing with Coppinger.

"They're doing something right; why change it?" he asked.