The only Hamilton County Commission race on the Aug. 2 ballot is a special election to fill the District 3 seat vacated when Jim Coppinger was tapped as county mayor. The election features Marty Haynes, a Republican, and Democrat Mitzi Yates.
The district, which includes Northgate, Hixson, Ganns, Pleasant Grove, Middle Valley and Lakesite, is fairly evenly divided between land that falls in the City of Chattanooga and unincorporated areas of the county.
Haynes, a former leader of the Hamilton County Pachyderm Club, upset interim Commissioner Mitch McClure in the March 6 Republican primary.
And for good reason.
The 53-year-old Porter Warner Industries sales representative puts improving the district's business climate chief among his priorities. Haynes, properly, views limiting the tax burdens the county places on businesses and individuals as necessity for a good business climate. In order to keep tax burdens low, he pledges to reduce wasteful spending and streamline county government.
Haynes considers the consolidation of some city and county services, such as Parks and Recreation, as a valuable opportunity for cost savings to the county. He, however, promises to defend the independence of unincorporated areas from the city.
Yates, who works for BlueCross BlueShield, places issues of transparency and accountability at the forefront of campaign. She advocates putting all action items online at least 48 hours before they are discussed and voted on by the commission. That is a simple, but valuable, way to encourage greater public discussion and involvement, as well as a proper safeguard to prevent the commission from slipping things past county residents at the last minute without their knowledge.
A second recommendation by Yates that the county would do well to consider is the idea of moving county commission meetings to the evening. Commission meetings now are at 9:30 a.m. on either Wednesday or Thursday, meaning that many county residents who would attend them simply can't due to work or other obligations. In fact, the morning meeting time even prevents good candidates from running. Yates is right in calling for evening meetings, and we fully support that recommendation.
Overall, Haynes displays a more thorough understanding of the issues facing Hamilton County, and the 3rd District in particular, and a more realistic vision for how to address those issues in a way that promotes job creation and economic development. For that reason, this page endorses Marty Haynes for District 3 county commissioner.
We also, however, thoroughly endorse Yates' ideas for making county government more accountable, transparent and accessible to the residents of Hamilton County. We encourage the county commission to adopt her recommendations.