Wednesday, February 13, 2013
With early voting for the March 5 election running Feb. 13-28 and multiple candidates vying for open City Council District 1 and 9 positions, the Community News asked each candidate to respond to two questions in an effort to help inform voters.
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? Candidates were given 150-200 words with which to respond.
The following are their responses:
- Approximately 70 percent of new jobs are created by small businesses. I have started and run several successful small businesses, mostly in Chattanooga. By doing so I know the problems with government regulations, taxes and fees. A business perspective of efficiency and customer concern is lacking in our city. I have a master’s in business administration and have studied the city budget and have been working to solve these problems for three years. My graduation from the Citizens Police Academy, ride-along with the police and research in gangs have given me an understanding of our crime problem and solutions.
- City budgets will spend about $210 million in 2013. Managing our money with leadership to handle basic services instead of political wants of our mayor has led to lack of funding for necessary police functions, roads and neighborhood maintenance. We can cut the waste, partly shown on my website www.electjimfolkner.com, and have the money for paying most of our city employees better, solving the gang problem and cutting our taxes and fees.
- Legally the qualification for running is living in the district for at least a year, and having the qualifying papers signed by 25 registered voters from your district. It’s that easy! I feel I’m qualified because I have lived in Chattanooga for over 55 years. I also retired from TVA after 32 years, 26 of those years in accounting. My last position was manager of fixed assets, responsible for well over $100 billion in assets. I think it’s time for a change on the City Council, across all districts. New people, new ideas.
- One of the most important issues in District 1 is the same issue for all districts: reducing crime. I also think my district should get the same attention that the downtown districts seem to always get. I will work with the new mayor and express the concerns of the people in District 1. Renew Chattanooga!
- For 22 years, I have been making sound business decisions that have successfully guided my company through one of the worst economic downturns in our industry’s history. By practicing fiscal responsibility along with accountability to my customers, my company has been able to compete and thrive while other good companies were forced to close their doors. I understand what it takes to operate the city from a strong financial position, because I have done that in my business. I understand what it takes to be marketable, because I have done that in my business. I understand what it takes to create a budget and have to stick to it, because I have done that in my business.
- While the rising debt of our city and the plague of gang violence must be addressed, the overwhelming concern I hear from District 1 residents is the deplorable conditions of our roads. Out of a $202 million budget, the city allocates only about $1.7 million towards maintaining our roads. Recent studies indicate we need to be allocating as much as $5 million towards our roads. I would assign priorities based on condition and traffic loads of our roads, then post a list on the city website so taxpayers would know when they could expect to get their roads fixed.
- Holding a seat on Chattanooga City Council is a major responsibility within city government. The Council passes resolutions, supports or rejects capital expenditures and budget issues that impact taxes and the quality of life for all city residents. My 36 years in school administration, both public and private, has allowed me to work with a variety of people, understand the complexities of a large budget, and has given me the experience of making decisions in a public arena.
- District 1 stretches north to south from the Soddy-Daisy city limit in Hixson to the Georgia state line in Lookout Valley. Representing such a large geographic area will not be easy. The issues facing each of the communities in my district vary. I am committed to establishing consistent and open lines of communication throughout the district. I will create and hold forums on a regular basis in each area. The people in my district will have multiple opportunities to discuss the issues with the person representing them on City Council.
- Residents of District 9 have shared with me that crime/safety is their greatest concern. Across America there has been no one strategy that has solved this problem. We can readily address two strategies: increased number of police officers and tackling the 22 percent unemployment in some tracts of District 9. Review and prioritize budget funds to find monies for more police. Develop a resource center within the district to teach basics of being a good employee, namely being on time, willingness to learn and being drug-free. Jobs for people within the district, small business development through the center. Getting people to jobs outside of District 9, such as an economical shuttle system. This is another avenue to attend trade school and apprenticeship programs. These residents can become role models and people to look up to.
- I am a Chattanooga native who has a lifetime of service to my city and neighborhood, including more than 46 years in elected and appointed positions of service. I serve in part because the people of this community have done so much for me. I am pleased that we are a good city -- but I want to be a part of making it a great city.
Despite numerous attempts to reach Peter Murphy, he did not respond in time for publication.