With November's election fast approaching and seven East Ridge City Council candidates vying for two open positions, the Community News asked each candidate to respond to two questions in an effort to help inform voters as early voting kicks off, running Oct. 17-Nov. 1.
The closest early voting location for East Ridge residents is the Brainerd Recreation Center, 1010 N. Moore Road, where they can cast an early ballot Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Our questionnaire contained only two questions: 1. What do you think makes you the best candidate for this position? and 2. What do you think are the biggest issues facing your municipality and how do you plan on addressing them?
The following are their responses.
I won't say the best [candidate], but I will say better. I am honest, hardworking, dedicated, professional and passionate. I have not only knowledge in real estate, lending and law, but I believe in God, the Ten Commandments, family, community, education and strong neighborhoods. I believe that the future of East Ridge is our children of today and we need to do something to show them we care so that they care.
We need to build back character of East Ridge to a main street community with the little things we can. The sign entering East Ridge reads "Gateway to Tennessee." Presently, Ringgold Road is starting to look like Rossville Boulevard. We need to clean it up, make East Ridge safe again and make it more attractive for not only businesses but for our citizens to be proud to live in East Ridge.
We need to get back to the basics, stop looking for "quick" fixes in tax revenue with short-term solutions.
I have a working knowledge of running a business. I interact with customers every day.
People need to be heard but also listened to. I will listen to our community's and work toward satisfying them.
Our biggest issues involve making East Ridge a better place to live. I plan to work with our citizens' concerns on this issue and take steps to correct the problems.
East Ridge needs more youthful leadership to move forward and improve.
I'm a fourth generation East Ridge resident, U.S. Army veteran, former Boy Scout Master, community volunteer and small business owner of more than 20 years. I believe I have not only the business experience and education, but also the morals, honesty and integrity needed to serve our citizens.
The biggest issues are:
Saving taxpayers' money - You do this by stopping wasteful spending.
Transparency in government and negativity in the media - We have been faced with this because too many of our city leaders do not care what the citizens want.
Not enough activities for citizens - Camp Jordan is a terrific asset, but if your child doesn't play ball or soccer, there's nothing. I would like to see a community pool.
Lack of economic growth and declining residential real estate prices - Hamilton County is growing, except East Ridge. This is a direct result from the negative media East Ridge government has produced these past few years. Citizens do not want to move to a community where its citizens are not respected.
[I am the best candidate] Because of my knowledge of how the city works and what the responsibilities of a council person are. For the past 25 years I have been involved in council meetings and many community projects. My up-to-date knowledge of what is happening now is an asset that most candidates don't have.
I am not a politician, just a very concerned citizen who wants my city not only to survive, but thrive!
The city discourages citizen involvement. Committees of citizens, who are a vast wealth of knowledge, should be formed to help the Council and administration move East Ridge forward and promote trust in our leaders.
Economic development I suggested at a meeting years ago that the city should offer limited matching grants to existing commercial building owners ... will update the look of our city to show prosperity and attract new business.
I think that small steps can be as productive as giant leaps.
I am certified and have taken all the classes for City Council with the graduating certificates.
I am a charter member of the following organized clubs in East Ridge: the chaplain of the Optimist Club, chaplain of the Ruritan Club, East Ridge Merchants Association charter member and East Ridge revitalization and other functions and clubs that help East Ridge. Also, I was the East Ridge city chaplain for five years before running for council seat and then re-elected for two more terms.
Out of the eight years I have served, I have never voted to raise taxes and have always stood up for the business owners of East Ridge. I stand for what is right and against what is wrong for the city and its employees and all citizens and business in East Ridge.
All the promises I have made I have tried to keep. I stand for honesty. I voted against beer in the park of Camp Jordan and I always will.
I have lived in East Ridge all of my life.
I retired from the East Ridge City Library after 23 years of service. I am now serving on the board of the East Ridge Planning Commission, have served on the board of the East Ridge History Center and was involved in city government when the openings of Camp Jordan Park, new East Ridge City Hall and the Pioneer Playground took place.
I think one of the biggest issues of our municipality at this time is creating more revenue. I believe that this can be accomplished by taking advantage of the newly enacted law by the state of Tennessee to make East Ridge a part of the Border Region Act. We have 950 acres that can be developed which would create jobs and bring in the revenue that we need. This is where I will focus my energy when elected, so that the residents of East Ridge will have places to shop without leaving the city limits.
Swindall was unavailable for comment but the following information was provided on his candidate Facebook page:
I am 27 years old and a lifelong resident of East Ridge. As a resident, homeowner and father, I look to push forward with revitalization efforts in East Ridge and continue making it a community that people can be proud of.
One of my primary goals is to see our Main Street community become more appealing to both businesses and people who pass through on the interstate. I believe that, if we can take pride in our curb appeal, we can attract new businesses and become more than just payday loans and used car dealerships.
I believe we should also encourage a greater living standard for our residents and that some of our existing programs, such as recycling, are a great step in the right direction.
I also believe that we can create a great air of responsibility in government for our city and to make sound judgments to improve it through responsible fiscal policy, good decision making and by taking responsibility for our actions.
For more information about the municipal election, contact the city of East Ridge at 867-7711 or the Election Commission at 493-5100.