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Contributed Photo by Marielle Echavez / Marvene Noel

After the Chattanooga City Council appointed her in March to serve the remainder of former Councilman Anthony Byrd's term, Councilwoman Marvene Noel, of Orchard Knob, has announced plans to seek election to her District 8 seat in August.

Byrd vacated the seat in February in order to serve as City Court clerk under Mayor Tim Kelly's administration.

"I have the heart and the mindset and want to continue to help in the neighborhood for improving our district and to help the underserved," Noel told the Chattanooga Times Free Press in a telephone interview. "We're so far behind on everything — just basic life needs that we need in order to have a good life."

Noel said many residents in her district live in a food desert and don't have ready access to nutritious meals, which contributes to health issues like heart conditions, asthma and obesity. Without a grocery store, people often rely on variety stores like the Dollar General or Family Dollar or fast-food chains, she said.

"It's not healthy food," she said. "It's not fresh fruit, it's not fresh vegetables, it's just not healthy for us."

Noel's district also needs more sufficient exterior lighting, improvements to sidewalks and more trees, and many homes are in disrepair, she said.

Affordable housing is another of her priorities. In a perfect world, she said, neighborhood associations would be able to assume ownership of houses when they become vacant and have the funding to invest $10,000 to $20,000 into repairs, making it available to families at an affordable price.

Historically, Chattanooga has had problems with out-of-town investors buying up properties and flipping them at a higher price or turning them into a short-term rental, she said. That's just taking housing stock from families who need it.

"Now exactly what the solution is for affordable housing? I'm really not sure," Noel said, "but I am definitely available to sit down and have a candid conversation with whomever we can bring to the table and listen to the ideas and thoughts that they have."

In a news release announcing her campaign, Noel noted that she has a history of community involvement and has held multiple leadership positions. A more than 30-year resident of the Historic Orchard Knob Neighborhood, Noel is the past president of the association and serves on the Board of Trustees for Park Ridge Health System.

"I've always just been an advocate and very involved," Noel said. "A community leader, a shaker and a mover and trying to get things done that needed to be done. Just basic things that you need to live a good life, to have your best life.

"I always say your ZIP code should not determine your best life."

In the release, Noel said she prioritizes ensuring all residents in her district have a voice and believes it is important that decisions regarding the community are made by people who live there.

"This is needed in order to build trust in those who live in the district," the release states. "It has become a regular occurrence for individuals that do not live or work in the neighborhoods to make decisions about District 8 neighborhoods."

Her platform includes creating safer streets, building safer communities, fostering economic growth and development and protecting families.

District 8 includes the precincts of Amnicola, Avondale, Bushtown, Courthouse 1 & 2 and Eastside 1 & 2.

Contact David Floyd at dfloyd@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6249. Follow him on Twitter @flavid_doyd.

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