East Hamilton candidates sound off

With early voting for the March 5 election fast approaching and multiple candidates vying to represent City Council District 4, the Community News asked each candidate to respond to two questions in an effort to help inform voters before early voting kicks off Feb. 13-28.

Early voting sites are Northgate Mall and the Brainerd Community Center, both of which are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and the Hamilton County Election Commission office, which is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays.

Our questionnaire contained only two questions: 1. What do you think is the biggest issue in your district and how do you plan to address it if elected? And 2. What do you think makes you a qualified candidate for City Council? Each candidate except District 5 incumbent Russell Gilbert and District 6 incumbent Carol Berz, who are both running unopposed for re-election, was given 200 words with which to answer.

The following are their responses:

Jack Benson

  1. The most important issue will always be the quality of life of the citizens in District 4. This can be addressed through good education, economic opportunities, recreational opportunities, health services, parenting support services and by following a good smart land use plan for the beauty and growth of the district. I have always tried my best to support a good quality of life for the citizens I represent.

  2. I have served 35 years in our public education systems and have also served on the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Planning Commission, Council of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Way Allocation Panel and the Armed Forces Committee. In my three terms of service with the City Council, I have always listened and addressed the needs of my citizens, and if I am re-elected, I will continue to do so. With my 12-year perfect attendance record at all the regular council meetings, my dedication of service to the City Council cannot be matched by any of my colleagues.

Larry Grohn

  1. There is no one most important issue in District 4. However, the one comment I have heard repeatedly is the rise in crime in the East Brainerd area during the past year. The recently announced desire by the city to increase the police force to 500 officers by 2015 is a step in the right direction. However, because of normal attrition in the department, I believe it would be necessary to have three police academies a year in both 2013 and 2104 to achieve this number.

  2. I am a former divisional sales manager for Sears, Roebuck (1971-1985) giving me budget and personnel experiences. My second, and most rewarding career, was as a secondary education teacher (1991-2007). I earned and BA in history from the University of Texas, San Antonio (1987) and a MS in education from the University of Kansas (1990).I taught both science and social studies at the middle and high school levels. I have been attending city council meetings for three years, only missing meetings when I was out of town. I have been interacting with the council members and the city department administrators, researching budgets and the important issues confronting the city during all this time. My learning curve stepping onto the Council would be minimum compared to most candidates running for a seat.

Ryan King

  1. There are several very important issues affecting East Brainerd right now and crime is definitely a main focus. But also very troubling to me is that the voices of the people in District 4 are not being heard by current leadership. So many times, the crucial decisions that affect all of us are being made without public input. City Council is not omniscient and they should not vote as if they are. They are representatives of their district and it’s time we return the reins of city government back to the residents of Chattanooga.

  2. I have lived in the East Brainerd community all my life and every day I’m out there working and advocating for the residents of my community, whether it be helping folks achieve the American dream through home ownership, working on the Hamilton County Zoning Board of Appeals, on the Brainerd/East Brainerd Council [of the] Chamber of Commerce board, on the Friends of East Brainerd board or as vice president of the East Brainerd Elementary PTA for my son. Through all these things I have relentlessly pursued a better and stronger District 4. I feel now more than ever I can be an asset for my friends, the hundreds of families I’ve moved into East Brainerd, neighbors, peers and colleagues at City Hall.

Scott McColpin

  1. The most important issue I have is not exclusive to just my district. Efficient use of taxpayers’ dollars is to me the most important issue facing the city of Chattanooga. The city of Chattanooga needs to look at ways to seriously streamline its departments and cut all wasteful spending. Second, I would like to make sure that District 4 gets its fair share of road improvements, police and fire protection and other essential city services. These services often get overlooked or shifted to a lower priority until a major issue arises. We need to become proactive and not reactive.

  2. I am from this area and have lived and worked in Chattanooga for the past 23 years. I have seen the growth for better and for worse. I plan to use my University of Chattanooga Bachelor of Science degree in accounting to make sure the city best spends the tax dollars that they receive.

Tom Tomisek

  1. The most important thing in District 4 is somewhere between public safety and infrastructure. Our roads are in terrible shape and crime is bad. We give a lot of tax money to the city and it seems to be spent elsewhere.

  2. I am qualified in that I have been a resident in Chattanooga for over 50 years and a business owner for 40. I have lived in East Brainerd for over 30 years. I have achieved many successful endeavors -- too many to list within 200 words. But a few are Eagle Scout, Ways and Means vice president of the Chattanooga Jaycees [and] treasurer for the Hamilton County Taxpayers association. I also have children and grandchildren here and I fully intend to do what I can to ensure the best possible for them.


After careful review, I believe Tom Tomisek is the best canidate for the job. I have always supported Jack Benson and I believe he is a good man, however he has not performed his duties as an elected offical.

East Brainerd brings in the most revenue and receives the least in it's investments. Jack has been asleep at the wheel for the past two terms and I question if he really wants this job. There is no fire in his words, no movement in his actions. Look at the mess he drives through on Shallowford Road every time he pulls out of his neighborhood - and we have not heard a word from him regarding the project that is nearly two years over schedule. I ask you, is that the leadership we need? If he can sit quite on that single project, and it affects him AND his neighbors so badly, what will it take to get him to act?

Check List: Status: Road Construction No Progress Additional Police No Progress Gang Problem No Progress Traffic Control No Progress Clean Roadways No Progress Additional Recreation No Progress Seperation of Business and Residentual Property No Progress Crime No Progress District Improvements No Progress

This is a small list of items where our neighborhoods in District 4 have lost out while Mr. Benson has been (mis)representing us.

Sorry Jack but I think it is time to stick a fork in you, you're done.