The Times Free Press and WRCB put out a call for questions and received nearly 300 responses. Many of these questions come from Chattanooga citizens who are our readers and viewers. Some have been combined or edited for clarity or to make them more concise. We'll identify the questions from citizens.
For those who submitted questions and they are not asked within the hour, please know that both the Times Free Press and WRCB have a record of all the questions and will refer to them in our coverage going forward.
Each candidate will be given two minutes for an opening statement and one minute for a closing statement.
View the questions asked below:
1. CITIZEN QUESTION: Chattanooga is a city of haves and have-nots; of private schools and failing schools; of dynastic families and downtrodden families. How will your policies ensure that lower and middle class families have more opportunity to advance their socio-economic status and that your policies do not favor Chattanooga's wealthy?
2. We're not just voting for Kim White or Tim Kelly. We are voting for your team. Can you name any key members of your team, and will it be a diverse team that reflects the city's population? Will you commit to hiring people of color or women as leaders in your administration.
3. CITIZEN QUESTION: Substandard housing is a significant social driver affecting the health and well being of children and families in several ZIP codes in Chattanooga. Specifically what is your plan to cut red tape and improve affordable housing opportunities for working and low income families?
4. CITIZEN QUESTION: What are your thoughts and ideas on the social injustice, police reform and Black Lives Matter movement that has started in this country, and where do you think Chattanooga stands in this movement?
5. TWO CITIZEN QUESTIONS: Chattanooga is special but we run the risk of being overrun with development like Asheville, Nashville, and Atlanta. Will you do something to stop the "over development" that is suffocating our city? Condos and apartments sit empty and unsold. Yet lots are still being developed. Downtown workers cannot afford to buy them or pay the high rent. Are we overdeveloping or building too many apartments ChattanooganS cannot afford?
6. CITIZEN QUESTION: Much road improvement has been conducted in the downtown area, but many other places in the city and county have been neglected. Also, you both have committed to adding $3 million to $3.5 million to the budget for street repairs. Why do you believe this is adequate? What are your priorities for city paving projects?
7. CITIZEN QUESTION: You both have had roles luring investors to downtown Chattanooga, what is your plan to ensure investments to parts of Chattanooga that hardly ever sees new investment? For instance, East Chattanooga?
8. CITIZEN QUESTION: Chattanooga's next mayor should have a proven track record of working with and collaborating in minority neighborhoods. Will each candidate please describe, in detail, your history of working in and with minority neighborhoods and what impact you had on those neighborhoods? What steps will you take to work with the African American community to bridge the historic divisions of race and inequality?
9. Data released yesterday showed a more than 80% increase in unsheltered individuals in Hamilton County, from 2020 to 2021 — attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, climbing rental costs and lack of affordable housing for low-income people. How will you address this dramatic increase in homelessness?
10. A citizen said, "I moved back to Chattanooga after 15 years and I find the state of the riverfront very sad. So much turnover and empty storefronts."
While you were CEO of River City for nearly 11 years Kim White, you have highlighted the $1.2 billion of investments made in Chattanooga's downtown. And yet development has been uneven in recent years with empty storefronts, condos and some closed restaurants while commercial area like Main Street are bustling. Please explain why that happened? As mayor, what would your plans be to revitalize this area and make it a destination for Chattanoogans and tourists once again?
11. A citizen asked, "How can you be chief promoter of Chattanooga and try to lure business to Chattanooga when you moved yours out?... do as I say, not as I do."
You are preparing to move your Southern Honda Powersports business into a new $10 million dealership on Ringgold Road in East Ridge from its current site in Chattanooga to take advantage of the border zone tax breaks, is East Ridge a more attractive city for business than Chattanooga and what, if anything, should the city of Chattanooga do to prevent local businesses from moving out of the city to nearby areas with lower taxes?
12. The city has created tax-increment financing districts to provide property tax breaks to spur developments on Black Creek Mountain, in East Chattanooga at the former Harriett Tubman housing project and for the extension of West M.L. King Boulevard to the riverwalk. Do you support the creation of more such TIFs to encourage new development? Would you support taxpayer money being used for a stadium for the Chattanooga Lookouts or another sports team?
13. CITIZEN QUESTION: How will you address the vast inequalities in median family income between Black and white families in Chattanooga and the displacement of communities of color?
14. Citizens and many of the candidates in the March 2 election mentioned CARTA's low ridership and coverage area, which some say is not servicing communities who need public transportation. A READER ASKED Do you agree with former candidate Monty Bruell that Carta buses should be free in order to help working people and the elderly without cars to get to their jobs, schools, and grocery stores? If so, how will the city pay for it?
15. Many of our recent mayors can point with pride to the aquarium, the downtown/riverfront development, or Volkswagen, and say, "that happened on my watch" Or "That wouldn't have happened without me." What would you like to point out in the future, as your crowning achievement?
16. Often, a newly elected leader will "erase" or try to turn back policies of his/her predecessor. Are there any achievements, programs, or initiatives of the Andy Berke era that you would like to replace, or roll back?