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More than half of likely Chattanooga voters in each of the seven voting districts with contested council races in March are undecided, according to a recent poll, but almost every district agrees on the importance of public safety and economic issues.

The poll was conducted this month by Spry Strategies, a Knoxville-based polling outfit hired by local conservative group Hamilton Flourishing. While a similar poll by the same group earlier this month showed significant support for several mayoral candidates, the poll of seven districts with contested council seats shows fewer decided voters.

The survey completed about two weeks before the start of early voting on Feb. 10 shows that somewhere between 53% and 78% of voters are undecided about their preferred council candidate in Districts 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9, where there are two or more candidates for office.

"Every other contested district has an incredible amount of undecided, which was expected this early in the game," Spry Strategies Founder Ryan Burrell said Friday, noting that "the city council ballot tests were not the objective of this project."

What the results showed was a more decisive public when participants were asked about city progress and the issues most important to them. According to the poll, most Chattanoogans consider the city to be on the right track but see room for improvement in the job market and public safety.

"As you go through the top lines from district to district, I think it is important to see the commonality between the diverse districts. Economic development and job growth and crime and public safety are two [of the] top issues in every district," Burrell said. "Chattanoogans across the board believe there is work to do on racial inequity and racial justice, but the percentages are similar in every district, which indicates the city is doing well with these issues compared to countless cities across the country."

In four of the seven districts, respondents ranked economic development and job growth first, followed by public safety. In Districts 4 and 7, the top issues were economic development and job growth followed by affordable housing. In District 9, respondents identified the same top concern but civil unrest and racial tension were the second highest.

Below are the top priorities by district when participants were asked to choose the most important issue facing the city in 2021.

 

District 2, including North Chattanooga and Riverview:

Alternative methods of transportation: 4.99%

Affordable housing: 18.45%

Civil unrest and racial tension: 10.52%

Crime and public safety: 23.78%

Economic development and job growth: 25.22%

Homelessness, mental illness, and addiction: 8.79%

Local roads and bridges: 7.65%

Reducing carbon footprint: 0.6%

 

District 3, including Dupont, Hixson and Murray Hills:

Alternative methods of transportation: 2%

Affordable housing: 15.3%

Civil unrest and racial tension: 13.3%

Crime and public safety: 22.4%

Economic development and job growth: 23.5%

Homelessness, mental illness, and addiction: 10.2%

Local roads and bridges: 13.3%

Reducing carbon footprint: 0%

 

District 4, including East Brainerd and Concord:

Alternative methods of transportation: 4%

Affordable housing: 23%

Civil unrest and racial tension: 10.97%

Crime and public safety: 11.32%

Economic development and job growth: 28.73%

Homelessness, mental illness, and addiction: 14.72%

Local roads and bridges:5.94%

Reducing carbon footprint: 1.13%

 

District 5, including Bonny Oaks and Dalewood:

Alternative methods of transportation: 1.47%

Affordable housing: 18.36%

Civil unrest and racial tension: 13.95%

Crime and public safety: 21.76%

Economic development and job growth: 31.27%

Homelessness, mental illness, and addiction: 6.59%

Local roads and bridges: 5.87%

Reducing carbon footprint: 0.73%

 

District 7, including Alton Park and East Lake:

Alternative methods of transportation: 9.4%

Affordable housing: 25.6%

Civil unrest and racial tension: 7.2%

Crime and public safety: 12.4%

Economic development and job growth: 28.7%

Homelessness, mental illness, and addiction: 5.4%

Local roads and bridges: 10.3%

Reducing carbon footprint: 1.1%

 

District 8, including Amnicola, Avondale and Bushtown:

Alternative methods of transportation: 4%

Affordable housing: 19.1%

Civil unrest and racial tension: 10.5%

Crime and public safety: 25.4%

Economic development and job growth: 25.5%

Homelessness, mental illness, and addiction: 8.5%

Local roads and bridges: 6.4%

Reducing carbon footprint: 0.7%

 

District 9, including East Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge:

Alternative methods of transportation: 3.1%

Affordable housing: 13.9%

Civil unrest and racial tension: 21.2%

Crime and public safety: 19.5%

Economic development and job growth: 24.3%

Homelessness, mental illness, and addiction: 3.1%

Local roads and bridges: 15%

Reducing carbon footprint: 0%

The survey

The Chattanooga City Council General Election Surveys were conducted by IVR and Online Mobile & Panel Methodology: “Interviews from Jan. 20 to Jan. 24 among a random sample of 100-200 voters depending on the district size. The poll data samples included city elections voters who voted in at least 1 of the last 3 city mayoral elections from 2009, 2013 and 2017. It has a margin of error of between 4 and 7 percentage points. Results are weighted. Some percentages for this poll may not add to 100% due to rounding.” -Ryan Burrell

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

 

 

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