Chattanooga and District 8 need the steady hand and thoughtful integrity of Moses Freeman.
A longtime civic leader, former city administrator and developer here, Freeman has done much to promote equity and diversity in Chattanooga. He was a teacher at Howard in the 1960s. He's been a Boys Club director. He was a program analyst for the Model Cities project - Chattanooga's first look at metro government. For a time he headed the city's Neighborhood Services Department, as well as the Community Impact Fund. And in "retirement" he became a developer and built homes in the Martin Luther King neighborhood.
Now, at 74, he wants to bring all that experience to bear as a council representative for the beleaguered District 8 neighborhoods of Bushtown, Avondale, Amnicola, East Lake, East Chattanooga and Oak Grove.
Those communities, he says, are filled with boarded-up buildings that breed crime and fear. And residents there currently feel they have no voice in city government.
"They need a catalyst," he said. And Freeman wants to be one.
The district now is represented by Andraé McGary, a former radio talk show host who recently lost a Democratic bid for state Senate. McGary, 33, announced he would end his city council career, but changed his mind when he lost the Senate race to Republican Todd Gardenhire.
Freeman said crime is down, but violence is up because much of it goes unreported in the district's urban residential neighborhoods where residents are afraid of retaliation.
Manpower and police actions alone are not the answer anymore, Freeman says. It will take listening and building trust, upping the requirements and penalties for boarded-up homes, tuning in the city's fiber optics and smart lights to allow residents to see on their cell phones what's happening on their streets just as they can see - in real time - "skiers in Switzerland," Freeman said.
McGary, the incumbent, also says crime, gangs and homelessness are "unfinished business" in Chattanooga.
His solution? "Synergy and cooperation is the name of the game," McGary said.
Freeman pledges more than glib talk.
"We need to focus on being public servants rather than public officials," he said. "This district needs someone sensitive to their needs."
Freeman is the best choice for District 8.