Today's the day: Vote and build democracy

Today's the day: Vote and build democracy

August 7th, 2014 in Opinion Times

Times endorsements

In the Aug. 7 general election and Democratic primary, the Times endorses:

Governor: John McKamey

U.S. Senator: Terry Adams

3rd District Congress: Mary Headrick

27th District, State House: Eric McRoy

County Mayor: Jim Coppinger

County Commission

District 1: Randy Fairbanks

District 6: John Allen Brooks

District 7: Ezra Maize

District 8: Kenny Smith

District 9: Melinda Bone

General Sessions Court, Division 1: Christie Sell

Juvenile Court: Yolanda Echols Mitchell

Public Defender: Ardena Garth

Criminal Court Clerk: Gwen Tidwell

School Board

District 3: Jim Watson

District 5: Karitsa Mosley

District 6: Ballard Scearce Jr.

District 8: David Testerman

District 9: Steve Highlander

Supreme Court Judges: Retain

Domestic Partner Ordinance: Yes

In America, voting is how we practice democracy and how we choose leaders.

Today is our day. Today we must make a point to exercise our voting right and rite.

Far too often in this age of "selfies," real leadership and governing are mistaken for a photo-op and a soundbite. But when the camera clicks and the sound dies the needed policy or law is still left undone. All that remains is the painful shrillness of unresolved argument.

Every two, four or six years, we the people have the opportunity to try again to find leaders who are willing to work for us -- to provide us service -- not just grandstand. The chest-beaters who have pointed fingers but have done no work need to be replaced. Those who have served well need to be reaffirmed with our votes.

We must read, listen and study, not just vote for a name or a claim. And we should put aside age, race, gender, faith and party -- maybe especially party -- to vote for the person, the leader, who earns our trust.

If we don't do our part, if we don't do our homework and don't vote, then we have failed democracy and ourselves.

In these most important and contested races in today's county general election and state primary, The Chattanooga Times recommends:

U.S. Congress

Mary Headrick on the Democrat ballot

Weston Wamp on GOP ballot

For weeks now, this page has urged Democrats to crossover and help Republicans ensure that residents in the 3rd District have two excellent choices for their congressional representative in November.

Weston Wamp is the best choice on the GOP ballot, while the very capable and brainy Mary Headrick is the best and only choice on the Democratic ballot. The only loser in this race is incumbent Chuck Fleischmann, who has proven time and again in recent weeks that he is not leadership material.

Some 150 gutsy people -- many well-known local Republicans -- signed a full-page ad in Wednesday's Times Free Press decrying Fleischmann's "dishonest" and "degrading" actions in his campaign against Wamp.

"When our elected representative in Washington is willing to manipulate the photo of his opponent to make him appear to be destroying a U.S. passport to deceive voters, it has crossed the line. The unauthorized use of logos and reshaping of quotes in order to offend voters is sickening," the ad reads. "We can no longer support him. ... What Congressman Fleischmann is doing disrespects all of us."

We couldn't have said it better. But we would add that Wamp is more than just the less negative choice compared to Fleischmann. Wamp is a true believer in debate to solve problems, to reach consensus, to build sound laws and policy.

Mary Headrick is our clear favorite in November, but Wamp, a young and bright innovator, is also a worthy candidate, and he would not, we believe, disrespect our trust as has Fleischmann, who tied his wagon to a tea party no-tax oath -- which made him powerless to govern, even if had he been so inclined.

Let's help our GOP friends send him home today.

27th District, State Representative

Eric McRoy on the Democratic ballot

Patsy Hazlewood on GOP ballot

Eric McRoy, a former health care technician and now a computer networking technician, is the only choice on the Democratic primary ballot for Tennessee House District 27. He has no primary challenger.

McRoy is a newcomer to politics, but as a man who has worked both as a health care technician and an information technology expert, he demonstrates that he's a fast learner with plenty of ambition. He also has heart and advocates for the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and other efforts to support our country's fading middle class.

For those Dems already planning a cross-over vote, however, this is another primary race where we can help all Tennesseans. Patsy Hazlewood, a former telecommunication executive and retired state economic development regional director, is the clear choice on the Republican primary ballot for Tennessee House District 27. Her priority is improving Tennessee education so our kids can get today's jobs, and she aims to help get Hamilton County's fair share of state education money.

County Commission

• Randy Fairbanks (District 1) will bring his certified public accountant skills, thoughtful planning and willingness to listen to the Hamilton County Commission.

• John Allen Brooks (District 6), an attorney and former Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman, is calling for a comprehensive economic development plan that includes the designation of more land with sewer lines for future economic development.

• Ezra Maize (District 7), would bring a Chattanooga-newcomer's eye to politics on the County Commission for a district with growing infrastructure needs and gang problems. He also knows schools should offer more education for young people and their parents about how gangs get started and why they are easy to get into but difficult to get out of.

• Kenny Smith (District 8) is a former Board of Education chairman with a strong record of negotiated wins and a reputation for being able to work with anyone. He is a strong advocate of education -- and particularly of vocational education.

• Melinda Bone (District 9) is a successful businesswoman taking on Republican incumbent Chester Bankston, a retiree from the Hamilton County schools' maintenance department and a former owner of CB Electric. She knows her district needs more community spaces for recreation and fellowship. And she wants to help the county increase its offering of vocational and technical high school training, while also pushing an effort to bring a tax break for the county's elderly.


• Christie Mahn Sell (General Sessions Court) should be re-elected as Sessions Court judge. She unified community leaders to create a Domestic Violence Court in 2010 and was awarded the statewide 2010 Leadership Award by the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence.

• Yolanda Echols Mitchell (Juvenile Court judge) should replace the incumbent Judge Rob Philyaw, who was appointed to the position last year. Mitchell, a former Hamilton County child abuse prosecutor and magistrate, rightfully challenges Philyaw's new Youth Peer Court. She points out that juvenile justice is supposed to be anonymous to protect children who commit crimes. Certainly the most important group from which to shield those minors might be their own peers, especially in this age of bullying and social media.

• Gwen Tidwell (Criminal Court clerk) is a long-time incumbent who strongly deserves re-election for her tireless and successful effort to keep the clerk's office consistently paying for itself and more.

• Ardena Garth (Public Defender) certainly should be re-elected. The first and long-time only Hamilton County public defender, she advocated for and built a social work position into her office. The position, called a "sentencing advocate," has been replicated in public defender offices around the country. Now she is working with other court personnel to establish a mental health court, which would offer programs to help mentally ill people accused of crimes.

Board of Education

We recommend Jim Watson (District 3), Karitsa Mosley (District 5), Ballard Scearce Jr. (District 6), David Testerman (District 8) and Steve Highlander (District 9). These candidates -- together with board members not up for election this year -- would form an excellent mix of educators, social workers and business people.