Once Ringgold voters go to the polls Nov. 8, they will have elected a mayor and three city council members to four-year terms.
Mayor Joe Barger is unopposed in his bid to be elected to a 10th term but that is not the case in the council contest where incumbents O.C. Adcock, Terry Crawford and Bill McMillon face challengers Earl Henderson and Nick Millwood.
Since all council seats are at-large, rather than allocated to wards or districts, the three who receive the most votes will be elected.
Adcock, 83, moved to Ringgold in 1978 and served on the Planning and Zoning Commission for two and a half years before being elected to the council where he has served for 12 years.
"We've made an awful lot of progress in the years I've been on the council," he said. "We are making good progress and I am happy to see how things are shaping up, but a lot of projects are still in the process of being implemented and I'd like to see those completed."
Adcock said the council undertakes new projects all the time, both near-future and long-range.
"In the next term I'd like to continue with major ongoing projects like completing the sewer line extension to Truck City and beyond, while always keeping working on paving, adding sidewalks and street lights," Adcock said. "There is always something going on."
Vice mayor Crawford, 64, served six months of the late J.B. Petty's term and is completing his first four-year term on the council.
"We have a lot of good things in the works that I would like to stay and see finished," he said. "The tornado interrupted some of that work, but we've made great strides in five months to return to normal."
Crawford cited completing work on Little General Park, continued progress on the creekside nature walk, ongoing infrastructure and streetscape programs along with plans to update the ball fields near the city pool as highlights of his time on the council.
"We rolled back taxes without having layoffs and furloughs during the economic downturn," he said. "I enjoy working with the city and think we've done extremely well, even through the tornado and recovery, to minister to the citizens' needs."
McMillon, 74, is a 16-year veteran of the city council and a lifelong resident of Ringgold.
"I've grown up here and seen the city grow," he said. "We didn't have anything here when I was a kid. The townspeople, young and old, needed a lot of things."
That has changed over the years, but McMillon said he still asks himself "Is this in the best interest of the whole community?" before casting any vote as councilman.
"I'm just another member of this community," he said. "We, the council and mayor, have tried to help businesses rebuild after the tornado, interceding on their behalf to help the overall community.
"I don't see myself as a politician and I've never put up campaign signs. I don't see the sense in spending money for election to basically an unpaid job - we are here to serve."
Henderson, 52, has lived in Ringgold for more than 20 years and serves on the city's Planning and Zoning Commission.
"I am running to give a voice back to the people of Ringgold," he said. " Everything has a season, and it is not time for a change.
"Our most important resource is the people and we need to tap into that resource to come up with a vision that is not just the vision of the city council, but one for all the city's citizens."
"As a community we need to decide 'Where do we want to be? What do we want our city to look like in five years or in 10 years?' We have to dream big."
Henderson believes the council should then pursue that dream.
"The current council has done nothing bad,"he said. "It is just time for a new voice."
Millwood, 31, a Ringgold High School Class of 1998 graduate, is in his third year as a teacher at Ringgold Middle School. This is his first campaign for public office.
"My aim would be to be proactive rather than reactive," he said. "My biggest goal would be to ensure the council is driven by an informed public, rather than the council driving the city."
Millwood said he wants to work with "motivated people" and that his experience is different from that of members currently involved with the city's power structure.
"I'd like to change the status quo," he said. "I intend to provide a voice, not just for myself, but for the public in developing the vision, direction, priorities and goals of our city. Too many capable people offer no input regarding how their town functions and I want that to change."
CAST A BALLOT
Early/absentee voting begins Monday, Oct. 17 and ends Friday, Nov. 4. Ballots can be cast between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday at City Hall, 150 Tennessee St.