Hughes joins Cleveland City Council

Hughes joins Cleveland City Council

May 18th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Dale R. Hughes, left, takes the oath of office Tuesday from Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland for the District 5 seat on the City Council. Hughes was picked by the council after interviewing five candidates. Staff Photo by Randall Higgins/Chattanooga Times Free Press

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Dale R. Hughes, a member of the Cleveland Utilities board, was appointed Tuesday to fill a vacancy on the Cleveland City Council.

The vacancy was created by the April death of District 5 Councilman Bill Robertson.

To comply with city personnel rules, Hughes resigned from the Cleveland Utilities board of directors before taking the oath of office from Mayor Tom Rowland. He will serve the remainder of the term, which ends with the 2012 city elections.

Hughes told the council it was his first time to be in the council meeting room.

"I think we are a blessed community and the Lord has shined upon us. ... We have a lot going on where other communities are not that fortunate," he said in his opening statement.

Hughes is a former principal at Bradley Central High School. He also served as athletic director at Lee College, where he coached men's basketball in the 1960s and 1970s. He is a member of the Lee University Athletics Hall of Fame.

Seven people had applied to be considered by the council. Susan Shelton, a city school system employee, withdrew because of the personnel rule. Another applicant, Hugh Hodges, did not attend the Tuesday interviews with council members.

Others interviewed were Harry M. Johnson Sr., Jonathan C. Porter, Barry Sullivan and Deborah Williams.

Council members asked each candidate the same questions, ranging from whether they would support a property tax increase, to if they had been following the fire department merger talks, to whether they were informed of the sales tax dispute now in Chancery Court.

On the sales tax dispute, Hughes said he was "knowledgeable with what's been in the paper" but had not discussed the issue with council members. Regarding property taxes, he said the city might reconsider a wheel tax - a tax on all cars newly registered in the city - "if it comes to a need for schools or other agencies."

Hughes said all the city departments are important, and when budgeting he will take note of "whichever one has the greatest need at the time."

He said city's most pressing needs are street maintenance, education and police.