A significant portion of my Friday afternoon was spent trying to wrangle information about all of Chattanooga’s mayoral candidates. I found out that there are some really good ones and there are some who feel, because they are an affluent citizen, the election is simply going to be handed to them. I may sound uninformed, but really, I’m just a local guy who is minorly involved in the art/music scene, I work in people’s houses fixing a variety of problems, I’m a father, and (oh yeah) I’m a taxpayer too.
None of that qualifies me to compete in the Olympics, fly an airplane, or run for mayor of this city. It does, however, entitle me to comment on your campaign (or lack thereof) and report exactly what I was able to come up with as an average voter in Chattanooga. Actually, I am a caucasian college graduate with a job, so that makes me not totally average, but I am definitely not involved in the political scene here. These days, it seems I’m hanging onto my job by a thread, so I guess I’m a little more interested than the average Chattanoogan.
The point is, I went through the list reported on the Hamilton Flourishing website and gathered as much info as I could about each candidate. Do I think it’s fair that I use one source to research our mayoral candidates? Yes, I do. I don’t think people in this city who are still working and trying to make it through the day-to-day of CoVID-19 have time to do much else.
But also, no, I didn’t—I looked around the internet for info about these folks. I did not, however, sign up for a blasted Facebook account! I was once a person in that world, but no more. So, if your campaign is solely social media-based, sorry. I don’t look on Instagram either—though you would find my account if you looked for one. Social media is just not where I want to read about possible future politicians.
One significant piece of information—that also disqualifies almost every candidate in my opinion—is that only one of the sixteen candidates have any ESL (English as a Second Language) accommodations—in a city where the Spanish-speaking population is significant and growing every day.
Anyway, let’s get the bozos out of the way. Here’s a list of people whom I believe should drop out and let the adults focus on who should be our next mayor:
- Chris Long: C’mon, man. You look like you should know better—or maybe you don’t.
- Lon Cartwright: I think your crosswalk platform could be addressed by the city council—you should go to one of their virtual meetings on a Tuesday soon and tell them about it.
- Andrew McLaren: Who are you … dude? Just, shhh please.
- George Ryan Love: Are you going to co-host with Rush Limbaugh soon? Do you adore Al Franken? Are you an evangelical? I saw that you published a vampire book … I mean, I might know more if you would put a little more effort into your campaign.
- Michele Peterson: She owns a business, I think.
- Robert C. Wilson: Your Facebook has a pretty good amount of information, but I couldn’t see it all because Zuckerburg is a stingy fellow. I’ll tell you this: I don’t want to sell, sell, sell our “slice of heaven” to the rest of the world. I want tourists to want to come here because they’ve read about our town and have attempted to find out what’s happening here. I don’t want them to crowd our streets and electric shuttles with their Aquarium umbrellas and their ice cream toots. There! I said it. Tourists have gas and they stink. I’m kidding, mostly, but seriously … the last thing on my mind right now is how many chumps we can convince that Chattanooga is a hot tourist destination. There’s a pandemic on, btw, Robbie.
- Christopher Dahl: You’re scary. I’m going to say this because you’re just a white male in this race, so I can’t really offend you too much. Man, you look too much like Jeffrey Dahmer. Also, you seem really out of touch with even your own conservative roots. Stick to the history books, bub.
- D’Angelo Davis: It looks like you’re doing some really valuable work where you’re at, buddy. Stick to that for now. I bet you have great ideas, but I don’t think you can run the city. Though you are pretty good at a photo-op!
So that’s half of the candidates. Let’s see what these other fools are talking about.
The Real Mayoral Candidates
Dr. Eleanora Woods? Not much info available. You almost made the “get lost” list up there, but I like you. I did find a Free Press article that somewhat gave you a platform. Truth is, you haven’t wowed me. Until that happens, I’m not going to sit and watch a bunch of video interviews with you and a local tv/radio host dancing while seated. Although it is quite adorable, that’s not what my search is about—my search is simple: find the new mayor of Chattanooga.
The trouble with that endeavor is they all say the same things:
- “I’m going to fix the economy”
- “Early childhood education is important”
- “We need more housing accommodations”
- “Look at these streets! We need infrastructure projects”
- “Better schools”
- “CoVID relief” (this year, anyway)
- “Job skills training”
- “Invest in our tourist industry”
- “What are we going to do with the homeless?”
There’s more to it than that, sure, but you get the picture. Candidates are trying to sell themselves, so they give generic versions of issues us voters want to hear them talk about—or at the very least, we want to think they care about something other than drawing attention to their local business endeavors.
The political climate of this country is so disturbed by the past four years that people believe they can just basically say they are running for mayor in Chattanooga and not even bother to make moves toward actually running for mayor.
You’re not the underdog because you don’t try. Underdogs don’t get discouraged by the odds being stacked against them. Excuse me if you are really trying, Michele Peterson or Andrew McLaren. I think if you’re trying, given there are completely free ways to host a website, I should be able to read about your agendas. If I am wrong, that means these under-funded campaigns are working diligently behind the scenes to barely get noticed. What is the point then?
That said, some of your fellow contestants on Who’s that Mayor? do have websites, and I couldn’t get a straight answer from their campaigns either. Many out there in the campaign world are just running the gamut of politicized issues and making vague statements about how we need to address those issues.
Erskine Oglesby, I bet you’re really busy and I also assume you’re a really great guy. President of the 100 Black Men of Chattanooga; Former something-or-other with the United Way; There are lots of righteous callings you’ve answered to. The trouble is, the information available on your website reads like an Erskine Oglesby fan account on social media. Your about page reads like a resume in paragraph form, or (gasp!) an obituary. There’s no substance. What do you want to do as mayor? Am I supposed to assume what your platforms are by what you’ve done in your past? You think the average Chattanooga citizen has time for that? Nope! Moving on…
Kim White, You have all the right moves. You are the only candidate who has an option for reading your website in Español. You discuss housing costs and citizens’ relationship with law enforcement. But let’s cut to the chase: You are a conservative candidate trying to tread water at a time when the right side of the aisle has done everything to make themselves look like heartless, goal-driven, hedonistic, violent, bullies intent on tearing down any progress made since the 1950’s and preserving what conservatives refer to as “tradition not hate.” Your party touts favor for a “free market” that really means the richest thrive and buy all the profit-making elements they can and subjugate the rest of the population under their rules. So, good job on the Spanish thing, sincerely, but after seeing the vast missteps of our selfish, pompous, and dangerous President during this pandemic, I am definitely not voting for you. And I know you know I am right because you make statements about how city politics should be non-partisan.
Tim Kelly, you’ll probably win. You probably have the most money. You’re the honkiest honky with momentum in the running. But the truth is, I don’t trust you. The fact that you’re a car salesman doesn’t make me not trust you (it certainly doesn’t help your cause), but it’s the vague nature of your political statements. Your concern for the homeless seems suspiciously like it blossomed from your disdain for the homeless—I know how you business-types think—homeless people are the drunks ruining the aesthetic of downtown. Of course, you’d deny this publicly, but c’mon man.
Look, here’s a sentence from your webpage about Chattanooga neighborhoods:
“Empower neighborhoods to reimagine how community centers should be used in their community, and increase investment in community centers.”
“Empower neighborhoods”: Boy! You must’ve paid a real-life writer for this one. How, exactly, are you going to empower us, Mr. Kelly? Let me tell you something, for the most part, I think Andy Berke has been a decent mayor. I don’t see him in my neighborhood though, and I don’t necessarily want to. We empowered him to go off and live in the mansion and fix the damn problems. We in the neighborhoods make the complaints, you fix them. That’s why we pay you. We all have jobs to do, this one is yours. That’s how it works. If you want me to work in the neighborhood for you, I’m gonna need a paycheck.
Anyway, don’t try to woo us with power, we know the people with the money have all the power, so just grow up.
“To reimagine”: ‘reimagine’ is one of those dumb words real estate agents use to convince the average citizen to agree to being fleeced by a bank and pay way too much for a home. In short, it’s a buzzword that doesn’t really mean anything.
Next, you use the word “community” three times in the same sentence. Are you trying to hypnotize us into believing you care deeply about the people that use these centers?
Finally, “increase investment”—oh yeah? You gonna sell Subarus from our community centers? Who are you going to get to invest in these, and what will they want in return?
Bottom line is, I don’t trust you, Timmy.
Monty Bruell, I’ll let you speak for yourself:
At the local level, our city government should be focused on helping small businesses thrive and prosper. Dollars earned locally are spent locally.
One of the things that I frequently hear from employers is, “There are plenty of jobs. People just don’t want to work.” Well, I want to put this opinion to the test. Let’s create a database of jobs that pay a livable wage (at least $15/hour) that do not require a college degree.
Many people could increase their earnings capabilities with just a little extra training. We have to make sure that workers understand and can take advantage of these certification opportunities.
Currently, revenue from fares only covers 11% of CARTA’s operating expenses. We can easily produce revenue from other sources to make up this relatively small amount. Also, the CARTA system needs to be rerouted so that buses go to more places that riders need and want them to go. It should not cost money to look for a job or to get to and from work.
Okay, okay Monty. You’re making all the other candidates look bad.
See what I mean, readers? Monty is a badass! Well, let’s see one more:
Since Women, African-Americans, and Latinos are disproportionately affected by wage disparities, it makes common sense that women and minority employers will do a better job of hiring and paying female and minority workers.
I love him!
Russell Gilbert, I used to be Russell Gilbert’s brother’s neighbor. Ron Gilbert was the president of our neighborhood association and was always out looking for opportunities for the folks in our neighborhood. Well, the Gilbert family must have had some great matriarchs and patriarchs (or one or the other, I don’t know) because Russell is clearly as involved as his wonderful brother Ron is.
Ron Gilbert was the best neighbor I’ve ever known and I miss living next to him. I think his brother has every intention of continuing doing good work in our city. Unfortunately, I don’t think he really has a snowball’s chance in Florida of winning the election. Mostly because of lack of resources, maybe?
His website has some glaring typos, and his intentions aren’t clear. Much like Erskine, Russell touts, and has others praise him for his good work—which is well-deserved—but I don’t see your path forward, buddy. I wish I did, honestly, because I would vote for you every time you run for mayor.
Wade Hinton, You have a clear platform. You address CoVID-19, housing disparity, economic opportunity for all, realistic community engagement, education empowerment, and you make inclusivity and anti-discrimination a city-wide effort. You just press all the right buttons for me, Wade. The former city attorney also has a way with words (or at least hired a good writer):
We can come together to create a Chattanooga with a shared vision for public safety—one where we can say Black lives matter while still appreciating the important role law enforcement plays in our community, because we believe in both civil rights and civil order.
Wade wants to carry Chattanooga into the 21st century, morally that is, but he understands that many in our city will have to be plucked out of their comfy spot in their 20th century way of thinking. The man has a plan, and I believe he can make it happen.
I only wish he would team up with Monty and really blow Tim Kelly out of his Subaru’s sunroof. Theoretically, Timmy—just calm down and shh, please.
That’s my take, folks. I’m sure the only people who will read this are the fine folks I asked to edit it. If you want to see what information these candidates offer, you can visit that Hamilton Flourishing website I linked earlier in the article. Each picture is a link to something.
Harold Guenthner is a writer, musician, stinker, voter, handyman, father, (and, like, lots of other things) living in Chattanooga, Tennessee (where the Civil War just won’t shut the eff up. Like, ever, for some reason)(Seriously, the Civil War sucks. Please shut up about it)