Today is election day for many folks. There are a few races to fill the balance of terms in the General Assembly that could tip the scales in the state senate. However, many municipalities will be determining their mayors, city councilmen, and some will be determining whether or not they will have packaged alcohol sales on Sunday. Some cities may not have too many controversial races, but some will may determine how the city will advance in the future.
For instance, Rossville will be electing a new mayor. Current Mayor Johnny Baker has decided not to run for another term as Rossville’s mayor, but is running for a council seat. Current Councilman Teddy Harris will be facing former Rossville Fire Chief Bill Eaves. Rossville was a thriving textile mill town years ago, but those industries have since sold off their equipment and moved out of the country to chase after cheaper labor. Unfortunately, Rossville is dying and looking for businesses to come in and revitalize the area. Rossville is situated in the northern part of Walker County and borders the cities of Chattanooga, TN to the north and Fort Oglethorpe, GA to the east.
Then you have the Dalton mayoral race that is starting to heat up quite a bit. Dalton and Whitfield County has some of the highest unemployment in the state and nation. They’re experiencing a similar pinch that Rossville did years ago. The difference is, they still have time to court other industries into the Dalton area. I believe Mayor Pennington has done a well job for Dalton during these tough times.
These races are similar, they have candidates who want to keep taxes low in order to court businesses and candidates who want to raise taxes. For instance, Mr. Eaves is proposing a .5% gross receipt tax on all businesses (although, he has it on his platform as “one-half of one percent (.005%)”…I’m not sure if that’s a typo or what). He’s also proposing an idea of annexing streets (not the residences or other property in between them). I’m not sure what sense that makes seeing that non-city residents would be benefiting from the roads and the city (and city taxpayers) would be left maintaining the roads. I consider Mr. Harris a friend, and I hope he wins today’s election. I believe he has poured himself out for Rossville and wants to see a vibrant city reborn. It will take some work and cooperation of the county, state, and neighboring cities, but I believe he can lead Rossville into the future. I know he’ll work to keep the Rossville Downtown Development Authority active. The Authority helps business owners in the city talk to each other and potentially do business with each other.
I don’t know Mayor Pennington as well, but I like what he has done. He’s been able to reduce the budget and lower taxes which at least helps taxpayers when money is tight during a stagnant economy. There’s still work to be done. It’s harder to convince businesses to move and invest in a new city when the economy is sluggish, so you must make the city as attractive as you possibly can. I believe Mayor Pennington will do that.
I see Dalton and Rossville as somewhat similar. The only difference is, one city is on the verge of losing a major industry and the other has already lost it. Dalton is in a better position to recover, but Rossville still has a way to go. Both cities need solid leadership for the future. I believe that both Teddy Harris and David Pennington are ready for that challenge.
You can read more about the local elections in Northwest Georgia over at the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.