Joda Thongnopnua works Thursday, September 10, 2015, at the Lamp Post Group.

Chattanooga suffers no shortage of impressive young professional talent. For a city this size, we are blessed with an inordinate number of sharp, civically engaged folks who work hard to help this town to realize its full potential.

And in recent years we've seen many fresh faces with fresh ideas take, what I feel is, the gutsiest step in civic life: running for office. What's more, many have actually won races to serve their community in elected positions.

I'd like to see more follow suit.

In thinking this over the other day, I thought I'd throw together a list of locals whose names I'd love to see on a ballot one day. I doubt I'd agree with each of them on every policy matter, but they each command qualities — namely a selfless spirit, intelligence, passionate idealism, relevant experience and objectivity — that would make them ideal candidates for local office.

So here's my first five. I've got more suggestions, and maybe I'll do another list one day. But for now:

  •  Patrick Bobo — Bobo currently works as an attorney for one of Chattanooga's numerous logistics companies. In addition to that, he's played an integral role in a few nonpartisan civic initiatives, including Your Vote Matters (an offshoot of the Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Chattanooga program), which aims at boosting early voting numbers. He's also a board member at Family Promise of Greater Chattanooga.
  •  Patricia Russell — All of the recent Hamilton County Department of Education turbulence makes it easy to forget the fact that there are some incredible all-stars working in our public school system. Russell is definitely one of those standouts. She's a classroom teacher turned school counselor, and co-founder of the Student Leadership Academy. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better, more experienced voice to represent the best interests of our students.
  • Joda Thongnopnua — Joda and I are ideological opposites on, well, probably everything. That said, his love of problem-solving and civic engagement would be welcome attributes at the local level. Even as the youngest person on this list, he's got a solid resume, which includes serving as co-founder of the UNFoundation and director of communications at Lamp Post Group before launching the Metro Ideas Project.
  • Peterson Hostetler — He's a financial adviser by trade, but much of his nonprofessional time has been dedicated to community endeavors. Hostetler is currently a board member at the Boys & Girls Club of Chattanooga, and his past nonprofit service includes stints with the Southside Council, the Leadership Chattanooga Alumni Association and the Bethlehem Center. This guy can function well on Wall Street, Main Street and in your local community center. That's easier said than done.
  • Elizabeth Crenshaw Hammitt — The word "impressive" doesn't do Hammitt justice. She's EPB's director of environmental stewardship and community, is on the Tennessee Aquarium's board of directors and has been included in just about every list highlighting the area's most accomplished young professionals. To serve in local government, one must be able to work on projects with numerous stakeholders, and Hammitt already has a long track record of successfully doing that.

Admittedly, this list is comprised of people I regularly encounter in my own bubble. So it is by no means meant to be the definitive "who should run" list. No doubt, you know a few names you'd like to see on local ballots, too. And I'd like to hear about them.

But don't just email me their names and attributes. Tell your Top 5 (or 10, or whatever) that you think they'd be great public servants. Sometimes, all a good person needs is a nudge to run.

Be the nudge.

Contact David Allen Martin at and follow him on Twitter @DMart423.