We have just come off of a very intense and divided Presidential election and the last thing you might want to do is think about politics or voting. While I too am so over it, I am writing to encourage you to take the time to vote in the upcoming local election for our Mayor and your respective district’s City Council Representative. This strays outside the lines of my normal posts, but I think it is very important as moms and parents to take the time to learn more about our local elections and to become involved.
The presidential election gets all the money and press, but who we choose to represent us locally is incredibly important.
As fellow moms and parents, who we choose to represent our city and state has implications that greatly affect our day to day life. Our local city and state representatives have a lot of influence over our day to day life for things like property taxes, how money is allocated locally, zoning, how money is allocated to schools, and many other things that have a major and more immediate impact on our day to day life. We have seen examples of how local government plays such an important role throughout the pandemic as many decisions were made about things like school closures, vaccine distribution, or mask mandates.
The United States is purposefully set up in a way to give power to each of the states to make decisions that fit its citizens. In this way, the President does not have too much power or control over individual states. Our Founding Fathers realized that there did not need to be too much power centralized with the federal government and crafted the Constitution in a way that was meant to provide a balance between the federal and state governments. Without diving too far into a history lesson, this basically means the President is important, but our city and state elections are extremely important as well.
Chattanooga has separate city and county governments. This is not unique to our area, as many other cities are set up similarly, while other cities have a consolidated government. The current Chattanooga city mayor is Andy Berke, and the county mayor is Jim Coppinger. I have lived in Chattanooga for a large portion of my life and I knew that there were different mayors, but I didn’t really have a great understanding of why or what each one did.
This article, “Explained: city, county governments in Chattanooga, TN” from Nooga Today does a great job explaining how the government system in Chattanooga and Hamilton County works. The county mayor in many cases acts as an extension of the state. The county government oversees things like the school system, jails, and public health. This is why the final call on the mask mandate came down to the decision of county Mayor Jim Coppinger.
The city mayor has influence on things like zoning, ordinances, and city planning goals and initiatives. In medium to large cities, the city mayor is a strong presence driving many of the decisions being made. They influence city planning and the recruitment of new businesses in the area and can help to advance the city. The mayor also has an important impact on affordable housing and the condition of the roads and public transportation. The mayor works with each district’s elected City Council Representative, who you will also be voting for in the upcoming election. Your City Council Representative represents your district within the city. This person represents the interests and issues that you face in your individual neighborhoods and area of the city, and works with the city mayor to make sure that all members of the city are represented in decisions being made.
What I think is most interesting and important about the upcoming elections is that they don’t fall along any party lines. It is up to you to take the time to research a bit more about the candidates to decide whose vision is most in line with the direction you see our city going. While a trip to the voting booth may not be high on your list right now, it is in our local elections that we truly have the ability to impact what happens right outside our door, in our own city. This is where our kids will grow up, where we do business, and where we take care of our neighbors and each other by working together to continue to have a great city to live in. As a fellow parent, I hope to encourage you to make the trip to the voting booth.
The upcoming election will decide the city mayor by replacing Andy Berke. Chattanooga currently has 15 candidates on the ballot. You will also be voting for your city council representative. It is important to take the time to research the candidates and decide who would best represent you.