Hamilton County Commission Endorsements: Brent Lambert our favorite in District 8 primary

Hamilton County Commission Endorsements: Brent Lambert our favorite in District 8 primary

April 11th, 2014 by Clint Cooper in Opinion Free Press

Brent Lambert

Brent Lambert

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

We'd like to take bits and pieces of the three Republican primary candidates for District 8 and elect the stitched-together candidate, but that's not possible.

Former longtime Commissioner Curtis Adams, for example, knew how to get things done in 22 years on the Commission, eventually delivering more than $25 million in schools and discretionary spending for the district. Now, after leaving for a city manager job in Crossville, Tenn., and resigning there after a now-healed back injury, he'd like to return to his old job.

Incumbent Tim Boyd brings an engineer's eye for details to any issue he tackles but especially those involving county money. We appreciate that he did not want to immediately OK the 2013-2014 county budget after seeing the fine print for less than an hour. We also find virture in his questioning of a requested increase in miscellaneous spending of $635,000 in the 2013-2014 budget and an increase of $1.4 million in spending for the Enterprise South Nature Park in the 2010-2011 budget.

And East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert has helped Tennessee's most densely populated city be designated a development district (which could return tax money to the city). He also started -- with Boyd's discretionary funds assistance -- a popular curbside recycling program, and he helped the city earn a first-ever AA rating.

Any of the three would be an effective commissioner, but we believe Lambert offers the best combination of new ideas, willingness to work across various elected boards and understanding of the importance of keeping a wary eye on county finances.

He advocates a better relationship between the holder of the District 8 commission seat and the East Ridge City Council, a relationship Boyd himself admits currently is "not close." And where there are differences between commissioners or between commissioners and the East Ridge Council, he promises "a level of respect."

On recent spending for school projects, Lambert said he understands the logic of how the money was disseminated but believes a timetable for a new Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts could have and should have been put in place.

He and Boyd said they would scrap the commissioners' discretionary spending if it became an option, but Adams believes "it's good."

Adams, meanwhile, would increase the county's contribution to Erlanger hospital, perhaps even to a percentage of taxes, as was once suggested.

Boyd, who proudly says he's not among the "get-along, go-along politicians," says it's vital any county funds expended are "spent efficiently, transparently" and with "attention to detail." And while he's not for a metro government, he's willing to see how cities, municipalities and the county could work together "to find better services."

The winner of the Republican primary will face Kenny Smith, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Smith, a former Hamilton County Board of Education member, lost to Boyd in the 2010 District 8 race.