City residents and employers tend to pay more attention to City Council elections than to elections for their county commissioners. Consequently, they get disproportionally fewer benefits for their county tax dollars. Never mind that city taxpayers provide upward of 75 percent of county government's total property tax base.
John Allen Brooks, a candidate for the 6th District seat on the commission, could help swing the tax equity balance back toward fairness for city residents and businesses - especially in the neglected District 6. He deserves election over Joe Graham, who offers faint hope of helping city taxpayers get a fair shake.
Brooks comes prepared for the challenge. A former commission member, he previously represented District 6 well, securing fairer school funding from the state, encouraging economic development and aiding improvements in District 6.
Graham's narrow election in 2010 has let District 6 measure Graham's deficiencies versus Brooks' agenda. Brooks would re-energize the needed battle for equitable state school funding, revival of neglected schools, advocacy for a vocational-technical high school, and assembling property for economic development. He would work to make county government more transparent, and to abolish commissioners' politically tainted discretionary funds.
Brooks aims higher than Graham. Elect him.
Put down your mindless electronic gizmos and do something that is a privilege. For whatever reason, about a month ago, while strolling the not so mean streets of Chatt-town, I was spoken to at random by this charming, gorgeous and unassuming lady. Wow! I was taken aback. How many times does a random stranger speak to you on the streets without requiring something in return?
Fast forward. A month later I spoke to her at a North Shore eatery and she acknowledged our initial meeting. Who is this person? I wondered to myself. Then it hit me. It was the honorable Christie Mahn Sell.
Later in the week with threatening skies above, I decided to seek refuge in her courtroom. She handled each case with precision and soft-spoken sensibility. Second, third, fourth chances were handed out. Talk about fair. I gotta tell you, it would be an unwise urge and just plain wrong to cast a vote for anyone else.
Do yourself a favor, Chatt-town, and put this pragmatic judge where she belongs. So get busy and vote for Ms. Sell.
JIMM CHAMPION, Nashville
I am so very proud of Rhonda Thurman. She has reached out to the people to vote for her.
Rhonda Thurman knows that she will serve the people instead of a group or organization. I looked at her opponent's ad and wondered why he felt it was important to include who supported him.
It appears that he has been campaigning to the leaders or decision makers of these groups instead of the individuals whom the commissioner will serve.
It is time that the people stand up and vote for who they think will do the best job and not the person who their employer or leader is supporting.
Rhonda Thurman has proven that she will stand up for what she believes is right and just for all.
ALMA SMITH, Soddy-Daisy
As retired law enforcement officers we all know what Gwen Tidwell has done to streamline the process in the Criminal Court Clerk's Office and make it easier, faster and more efficient for the police.
Those of us who are retired know what it was like before, but many of the newer officers never knew the office before Gwen.
The newer officers don't know that the annex office wasn't always there, that it was Gwen who opened that office for the police officers' convenience and safety so that they don't have to go down the block to the Courts Building to file their paperwork and get a mittimus before taking their prisoner to jail.
They don't know that the online calendar or schedule information for officers wasn't always there.
She runs a professional office and has greatly improved the record keeping, collection of money, and the process for issuing warrants and other documents for officers. The public has benefited from her management as have the rank and file law enforcement officers.
We need to keep her. Please vote for Gwen on Aug. 7.
CHIEF RONNIE DODD, CHIEF RICHARD THURMAN, CAPTAIN ROY PHILLIPS, DETECTIVE FRANK NEWSOM, LIEUTENANT JIM BELL, LIEUTENANT STEVE GAMBLE, LIEUTENANT JIMMY SWAFFORD, SERGEANT GARY FARMER, JOE GUIDI AND RODNEY ROLLINS (all retired)
I'm calling out state Sen. Mike Bell and state Rep. Gerald McCormick. They need to put up their best candidate and have them run in an election against Justices Wade, Clark and Lee.
After gaining a super majority in 2012, Republicans never changed the Supreme Court justice selection process to a general election because they realized at some point the current process would actually be much better for getting the guys they really want in office.
They believe big spending by out-of-state donors could fool the citizens of Tennessee into booting out Wade, Clark and Lee in favor of, hmm, I guess no one in particular. Then our "fellow Tennesseans" at Virginia-based Americans for Prosperity can inject their green grease into the process and get their buddies in.
If we give our justices the boot, we still won't have any say in who the new justices are, and Bell and McCormick won't have to put their best foot forward. Until they change the law and put someone up against the justices we have, let's keep the ones we know aren't bought with D.C. money.
The Chattanooga Black Police Officers Association is proud to endorse Yolanda Echols Mitchell for Hamilton County Juvenile Court judge.
Yolanda has worked effectively in the positions of assistant district attorney, Hamilton County chief magistrate and continues to serve in private practice.
Yolanda is the most qualified person to run for Juvenile Court judge.
She exemplifies honesty, fairness and thoughtfulness, and she will use those qualities to create a better balance in the juvenile court system.
The Republican primary for the District 27 House seat has two good candidates, Tommy Crangle and Patsy Hazlewood. Both have a similar ideology - conservative with strong family values. Both have professional backgrounds that would serve them well but in different ways in the legislature. Patsy's community service is hard to beat, but what really differentiates them is their voting history. Tommy touts his consistent Republican voting record, which is admirable. However, I believe Patsy will be a more independent thinker. For that reason, I am supporting Patsy Hazlewood in the Republican primary for the House District 27.
Like father, like son, Zach Wamp promised to serve no more than 12 years in Congress but stayed for 16 years. Zach promised not to accept special interest PAC money but ended up raking it in.
Weston railed against Super PAC money, but when his employer funded a Super PAC with $300,000, he said nothing. When his employer said he is on a paid leave of absence, Weston claimed he is working "remotely."
Yet in a Facebook post to Mark West, Weston claimed, "I have spent nearly every waking hour of the last seven months of my life trying to convince Republican primary voters to vote for me."
Weston's words, like his father's, don't reflect his actions.
District 1 in the northwest corner of Hamilton County is home to some of the most beautiful natural resources in Tennessee. Unfortunately, the district also has suffered from a lack of ideas and the vision and leadership to maximizing its unique qualities.
Citizens have the right to expect their hard-earned money, paid out in taxes, will come back to them in their share of services, facilities and amenities to improve their communities. This doesn't happen when elected representatives take pride in spending as little as possible. Schools in the district badly need improved campuses. Public recreation and services are fairly non-existent. The list goes on. A Rails to Trails program, which many communities have taken advantage of, was voted down by our current commissioner.
This election offers a chance for new ideas and leadership, and it would appear Randy Fairbanks is the candidate with the positive attitude and vision to make things happen.
CLARE M. SAWYER
With the exception of time spent in military service during the Korean War, my life has been spent in Hamilton County. During these years, I have always taken an interest in our political leaders and have voted regularly to confirm my interest and concern.
Until the past two cycles, I thought I knew the correct way to spell "political opportunist." I was wrong. The proper spelling is "Wamp."
Never has our 3rd District been offered a candidate with such vapid and questionable credentials. While Mr. Wamp makes a good appearance, is an accomplished speaker and has a well-known name, those qualities alone are not reason enough to place him in high office. Just because Weston has a "Brooks Brothers" look does not alter the fact we are seeing an "empty suit." Think before you vote.
Tommy Crangle was trained to think like an engineer. Unlike his opponent who on occasion has classified herself as an Independent, Mr. Crangle has been a conservative state and federal constitution-loving Republican to the bone all his life. He supports all the amendments. Tommy Crangle will take non-emotional problem-solving to Nashville for the good of all the people of the 27th District.
I assure you Tommy is solidly on the side of small business, small government, preserving parent-teacher partnerships and local control of education. As a member of Lookout Valley Baptist Church, Tommy upholds traditional American values. He will work to protect the taxpayer and to achieve a more efficient state government while seeking transparency in our government.
Tommy is a true American! Not long ago, he served our country abroad by helping rebuild the power grid in Iraq and was awarded a medal of excellence by Gen. Petraeus. At home, Tommy has worked to expand the roll of minorities in business in our community. Vote for Tommy Crangle to represent District 27 in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
ROGER W. CATLIN
As an individual and pastor, but primarily as a person of faith, I am writing to urge citizens of Chattanooga to vote for the preservation of Chattanooga's Non-Discrimination and Domestic Partnership Ordinance on Aug. 7.
Though there are those who say faith dictates family is only defined in one way, I would remind us our faith traditions call us to compassion, to fairness for all families.
Indeed, I believe the best of our faith calls us to acceptance and inclusion of all families, because strong families of all sorts and varieties, including those with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members, create stronger and vibrant communities where we do not allow differences to create divisions.
Indeed, those city workers who are in need of domestic partnership protection for their families are people and families in this community, people who are our friends, relatives, coworkers, church members, children, parents, siblings and neighbors, who we are called to love.
This is about families in need of fairness, of freedom from worry of losing their jobs. This is about being a community of compassion. For the sake of all families and our community, please vote yes on Aug. 7.
REV. LISA HEILIG
I am writing to show my support for Oscar Brock in the current race for School Board District 6.
I have known Oscar for more than 25 years. In fact, he was one of the first people I met when I moved to Chattanooga in 1989. I know him to have a true passion for giving back to the community and striving to make it a better place. American Red Cross, Chattanooga Rotary Club and the Mental Health Association are just a few of the organizations he has given time to.
As a young man he served as president of the Chattanooga Jaycees, and I had the honor of serving as his legal counsel while he was in that position. I witnessed firsthand his outstanding leadership, communication skills and decision making as I served with him.
He understands a board must be able to manage its community resources, have open communication with the public and be responsive to the public's need.
I know Oscar will be instrumental in making our schools better. He believes teachers deserve better compensation and recognition and understands the importance of parental involvement. Vote to make our schools better by voting Oscar Brock.
JOHN MARK GRIFFIN
I am a new attorney. I never thought I would be doing criminal defense work. Steve Smith changed my mind. I met Steve about a year ago through his wife, Mary. We talked about criminal law. He was easy to talk to, knowledgeable, eager to help, and he did not even know me!
Since then, I have been practicing law in Hamilton County. I remember thinking Steve would be a great mentor to any new lawyer and how lucky I was to meet him. I know Steve will do an excellent job running the public defender's office.
Steve has an excellent reputation with many attorneys and judges. He is a hard worker and a natural leader. Steve has seen both sides; he has been a defense attorney and a prosecutor. Steve as a public defender is going to do great things for indigent defendants accused of crimes.
I live in Georgia, but I wish I lived in Hamilton County so I could vote for him. Cast your vote for the best candidate, Steve Smith.
MANZURA S. TALL POVA
We the families parents and youth of Hamilton County are fortunate beyond merit in having the honorable Rob Philyaw as our Juvenile Court judge. Judge Philyaw has proven himself to be a man of noble character, integrity and uncompromising values. He is an outspoken advocate of the communities in which he has the pleasure of serving and remains a tireless servant toward the improvement thereof. His honor is demonstratively passionate about the goal of "strengthening communities one family at a time."
His honor is profoundly supportive of our community schools, giving generously of his time and resources. He is active in his spiritual community, having served various leadership roles therein. In addition to his unwavering devotion to his wife, children and extended family, our Juvenile Court judge is actively mentoring an inner-city high school student an experience providing boundless mutual benefit.
As a community resident, husband, father, taxpayer and as a concerned citizen for all Hamilton County families and youth, I invite you to join me in supporting the retention of Judge Rob Philyaw, Juvenile Court judge. I thank you in advance for your vote on Aug. 7.
ROBERT RAY STEWART, Signal Mountain
Jackie Thomas is an alert and intelligent young woman, who is very concerned about issues dealing with the well being of children and their families. Her academic achievements, work ethic and experience help to lay the foundation for her compassion for children and their needs.
Residents in District 5 are very fortunate such a candidate entered the race. She will make herself available, advocate for the underdog and yet still build relationships of respect.
Residents get involved by becoming a piece of the puzzle and connect your strengths, partnership and resources to help Jackie close the academic gap in District 5 schools. She believes in evidence based programs that promote best practices and that experience is needed on our school board. Jackie is the best candidate for District 5 school board because she possesses the character traits, knowledge, skills and needed experience. It is important and most urgent that you become a piece of the puzzle today. Please join me and vote Jackie Anderson Thomas on Aug. 7.
CHARLIE MAE HURT
Rex Sparks, a man with integrity, compassion, honesty and whose love for his family, church and country is steadfast, is a candidate for the office of Sessions Court judge.
Rex has vowed to offer and implement real help and solutions to court case overloads, serious problems of domestic violence and help establish a General Sessions night court for first offenders and misdemeanors where the arresting officers do not have to appear.
Rex will reassess the Domestic Violence Program by restructuring the program to make changes which really work; address the needs of the serious nature of cases coming before the court; encourage the use of community- and faith-based programs to help address the underlying issues that contribute to domestic violence, such as drug and /or alcohol use or dependency, family conflicts, communication skills and financial needs to name a few. Our courts must find solutions, not excuses, for these overloaded cases. People who have never experienced domestic violence have no idea what it is like to be tormented, not only by their abuser, but by the court as well.
M.J. BROWN, Signal Mountain
Lamar Alexander has a history of serving the people of this great State. His conservative and rational positions on issues important to the voters of the state of Tennessee are out in front and are easily ascertainable. Equally important is the manner in which he comports himself, as a gentleman who articulates the positions of his constituents while being civil to those who are not of like mind.
Unfortunately, there are those who oppose our conservative statesman who are not civil. They also are not adherents to Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment of presenting a united conservative front to the liberal agenda. Recently, at a gathering of Lamar's supporters, the incivility of the supporters of another candidate was in full bloom. They had only the ability to follow Lamar to heckle him, video his supporters walking in and out of a local popular restaurant and yell at those supporters entering or leaving the restaurant.
These less-than-civil activities have galvanized my support for Lamar. I urge everyone to vote for Lamar.
Must be election time. Ole Chuck is showing up, spending some of that $2 million of his war chest on TV ads.
Up he is in that one commercial; looks like he is 10 feet tall. They must have shot him from the floor. Did you see his gussied up hair? What a do! And that suit, a high dollar fancy one!
'Course Chuck was here a couple of years ago, talking about getting the lock fixed. Seems like that didn't work. 'Course, I don't remember any bill that he has passed for us. Do you?
Every time Chuck has run, his war chest has been about $ 2 million. About one-third of it his and about two-thirds outside interests. Which is mighty strange, 'cause Chuck used to moan and groan about what sin is to spend more than you're making. Now Chuck is taking in about $340,000 for two years, so how's that $2,000,000 not a sin?
I feel strongly about the 27th District state representative race because I've worked with and volunteered under Patsy Hazlewood's leadership for over 15 years on a variety of projects. She has great integrity and personal character. With her high energy and work ethic, Patsy will listen to her constituents and make a positive impact in the 27th District.
Patsy's professional credentials and business acumen speak for themselves. Educate yourself so you can make an informed decision on Election day. I believe you will see that Patsy is the best qualified choice for state representative for the 27th District seat. Please vote for Patsy Hazlewood on Thursday.
GINA M. CRUMBLISS, Chattanooga
I have known Vince Dean for over 30 years and served with him throughout his exemplary career with the Chattanooga Police Department. In all of my commands, he was an invaluable asset, not only to me as a trusted and extremely competent subordinate but to the department and the City as a true professional. His public service also extended to the City of East Ridge and the State Legislature.
Vince now seeks the position of Criminal Court Clerk. To me it seems a great fit. Vince has an abundance of "people skills." His administrative leadership has been in both law enforcement and law making. He has developed policies and procedures for the department and authored successful legislation at the state level. He is a born problem solver, possessing wisdom and a common sense approach to resolving disputes.
He is disciplined, a great team player, but also an innovative thinker, finding solutions to problems that arise. That makes him a leader. He gets the best out of people and they enjoy working with and for him. He listens, observes, considers options, makes sound decisions and acts.
Vote for Vince Dean on Aug. 7.
As a longterm business owner in Hamilton County as well as a longtime subscriber to your paper, I am perplexed that Weston Wamp is considered to be a viable candidate for Congress.
Let's be honest, if Weston Wamp's name was Buford Smith, the odds are that no one would consider him for any position of leadership other than quite possibly, captain of the 5th grade hall patrol monitors. I fully admit that this would give Weston at least some degree of leadership experience, much more than he doesn't have now.
I understand that Zach Wamp (dad) is now working in a lobbyist-type capacity. Well, why would a lobbyist want his son to be a congressman? Look at the campaign chest of Weston Wamp. He's giving a two-term congressman a serious challenge in fundraising. Think about this - a mid-20-year-old is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars? Consequently, will young Wamp favor his father's friends and donors if he happens sot get elected?
Had Weston been serious about leadership he would have joined the military. Unfortunately, he doesn't have to really do anything other than be the son of a former congressman.
MILES EDDIE KOGER, Ringgold, Ga.
As a minister I have come to see this ordinance, while not perfectly written, reflective of something much deeper than politics, government policy or fiscal issues. For me, it is a matter of social justice. I firmly believe the passing of the Non-Discrimination and Domestic Partnership Ordinance will permit our city to more perfectly reflect the higher standards of equality, dignity and affirmation found in our varied faith traditions and in our collective belief in the goodness of humanity.
In the Christian tradition, these principles are spelled out in scripture, modeled by the life of Christ and are standards to which we are called as Christ followers to emulate.
Ask yourself: If this ordinance fails, what would it feel like to wake up in a city where 51 percent of people do not value you as a worker or acknowledge you as a person of equal worth?
I feel it is my sacred duty to do all I can to ensure that isn't a case for anyone in my parish or in our city. Can I count on you as citizens of two kingdoms to help close the gap bringing equality and justice for all?
On Aug. 7 or by voting early by Aug. 2, voters will choose to "retain" or "replace" Tennessee Supreme Court Justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade. If retained, they will serve for another eight years.
The retention election is a way to retain judges who make decisions based on the law and facts or remove judges who are incompetent. Tennessee's Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission, appointed by Republican leaders, has reviewed these justices' performance and integrity and overwhelmingly recommended they be retained.
Some political groups are campaigning to remove the justices based on political goals and are making inaccurate, misleading statements in the media about their performance.
Judges should not be removed based on political considerations. Politicians may have to worry about fundraising and partisan views; judges should not.
Politics do not belong in the courtroom.
I encourage voters to review the Justices' records. Judges should act in a fair and impartial manner in upholding the law. I believe you will agree they have done so.
I urge you to vote to retain Justices Clark, Lee and Wade.
Tommy Crangle is the best candidate for the Tennessee House, District 27 seat. He is a man of integrity who believes very deeply in government "by" the people and "for" the people.
I worked at TVA but did not know Tommy personally until after I retired. However, I heard of him during my tenure as he was known for his accomplishments in getting major, difficult projects completed and was known to be an upstanding man. He was talked about at TVA as a fair and honest man who could "get the job done."
Since I have retired, we have become better acquainted with him and his wife. Tommy's strong conservative values are reflected throughout his life and in his home and business. Tommy's life has proven that he daily lives what he believes - his Christian values, strong work ethic, passion to serve others and passion for a government that represents everyone.
To have Tommy Crangle represent the people in District 27 would be beneficial for all the people in this district as well as other districts.
Please for for Tommy Crangle.
Several years ago, my family was faced with a crisis involving my daughter. Personally, I had never been involved with the Hamilton County court system or even been to court. So I turned to my friend, Gwen Tidwell, the Criminal Court clerk. Gwen stepped in on my behalf, led me through the land mines and thoroughly explained the process I was facing. Her caring nature and compassion rose to the top, and she stayed by my side through the worst ordeal of my life.
Folks, there comes a time when you just have to put the politics out of the picture and do the right thing. Being an elected official requires not only that they know their job and serve the public well, but the test comes when they go beyond the job description and their heart takes over.
Gwen Tidwell has a big heart, full of compassion, that she practices each day in her tough job as Criminal Court clerk. I am looking forward to casting my vote for my caring friend Gwen Tidwell.
WILBURN L. RICKETTS
I write in support of Justice Sharon Lee of the Tennessee Supreme Court.
In the fall of 1975, I found myself in a classroom full of first-year law school students. I thought to myself, "These people are really smart." Indeed, they were. And, Sharon Lee was one of the brightest.
Sharon later excelled in the practice of law and became an excellent judge. Her opinions are thoughtful, well-reasoned and reflect a common-sense approach to complicated issues. And, most importantly, they reflect a sense of fundamental fairness.
Yet, with all her success, she remains unassuming in her manner. Indeed, my assistant was startled to learn the lady who called my office and identified herself merely as "Sharon Lee" was Justice Lee.
The justices of the Tennessee Supreme Court are part of our government, and the decisions of our highest state court affect all Tennesseans. We all benefit from the decisions of good judges. And Sharon Lee is one of the best.
I urge you to join me and vote to retain Justice Sharon Lee as a member of the Tennessee Supreme Court.
JOE E. MANUEL
It is a pleasure for me to recommend the reelection of Judge Christie Mahn Sell to Division I General Sessions Court. She has amply validated the confidence we placed in her as the first woman elected to General Sessions Court. In her first term, Judge Sell received an outstanding Judicial Services Award from Court Watch Partners and a statewide Leadership Award from the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
Judge Sell is qualified by experience and temperament to continue to serve as judge. She listens carefully to all of the evidence, considers the circumstances and applies the law to assure justice is done with fairness.
Her legal ability, pleasant disposition and professional demeanor have earned our confidence and respect, and her volunteer service to a number of civic and charitable organizations for more than two decades has given her an excellent understanding of our community.
Please vote for Christie Sell, General Sessions Judge Division I.
ALAN L. CATES, Signal Mountain