Serving on the council and having the opportunity to be mentored by Mayor Barger is one of my best and most enduring arguments I have for why I am qualified to be our next Mayor. Learning from a man who has seen our city through so many struggles, successes, and ultimately the beautiful community we are today has been such an honor. The last few years I have served on the council have been a time of great change for our city, and I have learned a great deal in my time as Councilman/Vice-Mayor. In serving as Vice-Mayor, I have had the opportunity to chair council meetings on the occasions the Mayor was unable to attend. This has given me first hand experience in managing debate on a number of topics. There was a very large learning curve when I first came onto our council, and the Mayor and other council members were helpful in explaining not only the city’s current position, but also some of the history in how we came to be where we are. Learning about all the different pots of money and how it can and cannot be spent was very eye opening. The structure and flow of resources in our local government is much more complex than I had thought before serving. I am a stronger and more prepared candidate because of the time I have spent serving on our city’s council, and I will be ready on day one to fulfill the duties of the office.
Another qualification I wanted to highlight is my time as a teacher in the community. I teach, coach, and help lead our FCA program at Ringgold Middle school, a school in the heart of the City of Ringgold. Interacting with many of our city’s youth and their parents through the years has given me the opportunity to have my finger on the pulse of what it’s like living in Ringgold from families across the economic spectrum. I can see our need for quality recreation and mentoring for our at-risk youth. Teaching has given me the opportunity to better understand the values and aspirations of our city’s residents and, in particular, our next generation.
As I move to the accomplishments section of this post, I want to make the point that while I brought many of these issues to the council for consideration, I alone cannot enact any of these changes. The council requires a majority vote, and in every one of these instances I had some help. First of all, I wanted to give our citizens a better opportunity to be informed about what was happening at city hall. Before I ran for council, the city police showed up at my door one day to break up my daughter’s birthday party in order to comply with a parking ordinance that had been passed by the city council specifically for my neighborhood just a week or two prior. When I went and addressed the council about why we had not been informed, I was told that I should have been coming to the meetings in order to know what was going on. To me, that wasn’t good enough. The motion I was able to get passed during my time on the council was having our meetings posted online so they can be watched both live and on demand. You can click a specific agenda item that interests you, or you have an expertise in, and see just that part of our meeting. I have already had some valuable feedback from citizens who are watching those videos. The link is HERE if you would like to see the progress we’re making in this area. I have also systematically “friended” every voter on our voter registration list on Facebook in order to keep people informed. Sending out our agendas ahead of time, updating on current/potential projects, and informing generally about city business are just some of the things I’ve been able to do effectively using social media. We’ve also begun sending out a quarterly newsletter to each residence in order to inform and keep our citizens up to date.
There are many other things I am proud of this council for accomplishing, but I just wanted to mention a few briefly. We have added wifi to our downtown area in order to serve our citizens and benefit our businesses. The first block has been wired from the Historic Depot to the old Ringgold Price Drug building and more is soon to come. This is something I have been able to accomplish during my time on the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB). We have also added wifi at the Ringgold Pool and our recreation fields behind the pool. Also,regarding our recreation fields, we finally have a plan in place that we are moving forward with. That plan is HERE. When I came on the council, we had a plan in place that was unworkable and extremely cost prohibitive. We are steadily making our recreation field area more and more like a park. I hope to rename the park soon to something other than “Ringgold Recreation Complex”. It just doesn’t have a nice ring to it. I am curious what some of you think a good name would be.
In the future, I want to protect our downtown area against modernization. I love the quaint feel of the old buildings, depot, and hometown stores. We have an opportunity to move the digital sign out of our downtown and give it even more visibility at the corner of Highway 41 and Alabama Highway by 1st Tn Bank. This would protect the historic feel of our downtown while making even better use of this valuable resource. Our business growth corridors need to be developed through areas like Alabama Highway (Hwy 151) where the new college is coming, Ooltewah Ringgold Road, and Highway 41 toward Tunnel Hill and toward Graysville. I would like to find creative services for the community that have great cost to benefit ratios such as the dog park idea I wrote about HERE. The city has opportunities to extend our nature trail along the creek and make what is already a staple of this community something that is truly special. Our tax rate in the city needs to remain low so our citizens can enjoy more of their own money and continue to invest in our community through patronizing our businesses.
The office of Mayor has been something I considered pursuing in the last two years of my current term as my service turned into something that has become part of who I am. The last few years as a husband, father, teacher, and councilman have been the most rewarding time of my life. I believe through my experience I can be a Mayor who will honor our community and help guide it into the next generation with respect and vision. I have the temperament, confidence, and passion to make our city proud of it’s next Mayor. The experiences of my life have led me to this crossroad, and becoming our Mayor would be an honor that I would work every day of my life to fulfill with integrity.
Thank you for your time and consideration,