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Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 4/1/14. County Commission candidate for district 5 Isiah Hester discusses why he is running for office during a candidate editorial board meeting at the Chattanooga Times Free Press on March 31, 2014.

Isiah Hester is running for the Chattanooga City Council to advocate for public safety and stronger neighborhoods in District 5.

Hester, owner of a commercial cleaning company, has lived in the district for more than 25 years and is running against three other candidates to replace outgoing Councilman Russell Gilbert.

"With my love, my appreciation and my admiration for the people of District 5, I want to be an advocate for them, and be the bridge between District 5 and City Hall," Hester said Thursday. "I want to fight for the folks of District 5."

(READ MORE: Who's running for mayor, city council in Chattanooga in 2021)

Specifically, Hester said he wants to advocate for better community policing and better opportunities for the district.

"Public safety is probably one of the biggest [issues] facing our district. I'm not for defunding the police, but I am for reforming the police," he said. "We need to get back to a place of better community policing, the kind where you know and can rely on the peace officers in your neighborhood. The kind that is safer and better for the whole community."

Hester's other top priority is promoting individual success through education and economic opportunity.

"We need better jobs, we need more homeownership and we need to stop some of the gentrification going on in the district, especially in the Brainerd area," he said. "And we need to work on early childhood education and development programs for folks who make less than $75,000, and subsidize child care to help families."

To create "the strongest possible neighborhoods," Hester said, he will do what he can to promote homeownership for district residents.

"We need to help people own homes so that we don't have to raise taxes since we're getting property taxes. And we also need to make sure those property values rise up."

Hester — who was endorsed by former District 5 candidate LaDarius Price this week after Price withdrew from the race amid a residency challenge — believes that his deep roots in the community give him a distinct advantage to address those concerns on the council.

"I've been involved in neighborhood associations for 25 years. I could bring that experience to the table and bring the ideas of residents to council," Hester said. "I'm involved with my neighbors. I know their concerns."

"If neighbors didn't want something, like they didn't support rezoning or something going on in the district, I would stand by them and advocate for them in that position because I know them and I know what they want for the neighborhood. I'd be against any zone changes that would adversely affect neighborhoods."

For the city overall, Hester said, he would advocate for small businesses and for measures to keep residents healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, including making vaccinations as accessible as possible, and advocate for a $15-an-hour minimum wage for city employees.

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at staylor@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.

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