Written by Aubri Dancek and Bailey DuBose
In the upcoming Nov. 3 general election, three Collegedale Commissioner seats are up for grabs. According to the City of Collegedale website, five commissioners are elected to staggered four-year terms. After the commissioners are elected, the mayor and vice mayor are chosen by the commissioners rather than the citizens. The responsibilities for the commissioners include voting on city ordinances and resolutions.
This year, there are seven candidates running for Collegedale Commission. Each candidate was asked a series of questions by the Southern Accent and the information below was provided by them. To register to vote and to learn more about this year’s election, visit the Hamilton County Election Committee’s website at Elect.HamiltonTN.gov.
Alexander Brown is a realtor with Heritage Homes and Lands and a third-generation Collegedale resident. Brown has served on the Planning Commission, Design and Review Committee and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for the City of Collegedale.
As commissioner, Brown wants to focus on economic growth opportunities. Brown believes that new generational leadership is needed to make Collegedale more beautiful.
“I trust that by undertaking infrastructure improvements, expansion of the Greenway, by keeping taxes and our building codes at a reasonable level, using green technology, and by ongoing beautification projects we can attract new businesses to bring jobs and services that enhance our entire community,” Brown said.
Chris Twombley has been the director of information technology at Girls Preparatory School for the past year, he also volunteers as an advanced EMT for the Tri-Community Fire Department. Twombley was raised in Collegedale and wants to use his talents to bring transparency and accountability to the city’s leadership.
If elected, Twombley wants to focus on increasing business development by incentivizing developers based on a location’s occupancy and image compliance. “Empty buildings detract more than they contribute,” Twombley said. “Without guided development, we will be overshadowed by the surrounding communities and eventually lost. Growth is inevitable, but we can guide it to ensure its direction without losing our identity.”
Current Collegedale Commissioner, Debbie Baker is employed with the Dalton Public School System and has lived in Collegedale since July 1999. She has served as president of the James County Historical Society and on the board of Children’s Rights and Concern Initiative.
Baker has worked with commissioners and city managers to promote parks and recreation and served Collegedale through numerous volunteer opportunities. She hopes to continue to use her knowledge and wisdom earned from life experiences to help the citizens of Collegedale.
“I would like to have the opportunity to serve another term as one of our commissioners and continue to be a strong voice for the people of Collegedale,” Baker said.
Johnnie Hoskins has been a resident of Collegedale since 2013 and works in the planning department of a local trucking company. Hoskins and his wife, Ashley, have been involved with the Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department since 2007. Hoskins also has volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga.
If elected, Hoskins wants to add more parks in conjunction with the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation and local donors, expand the Greenway and create a bike sharing program with docks throughout Collegedale.
“As a commissioner, I understand that my role will be that of a legislator, to offer ideas, to advise management and to vote on budgets that support important priorities,” Hoskins said.
Current Collegedale Mayor Katie Lamb has been a resident of Collegedale for 48 years. Lamb started teaching nursing at Southern Adventist University in 1972 and retired in 2006, having served as assistant vice president for academics and dean of the graduate school.
In 2009, Lamb ran for city commissioner to serve Collegedale because she had an interest in politics and public service. Her reason for pursuing another four years remains the same.
“Collegedale is one of the fastest growing and safest cities in Tennessee,” Lamb said. “It is important that this growth is managed in such a way that it doesn’t distract from the natural beauty and charm of the area.”
Matthew Sadler has been a lifetime resident of Hamilton County and has lived in Collegedale since 2015. Sadler is a radio network analyst for the City of Chattanooga, working in support of the Tennessee Valley Regional Communications System.
Sadler always had an interest in local politics. For 18 months, he has regularly attended Collegedale commission meetings, workshops and planning commission meetings.
If voted in, Sadler wants to focus on transparency, honesty and the city’s financial issues.
“I know that you can wait for something to change, or you can work to effect change, and I decided to try to effect change by running for the Commission,” Sadler said.
Current Collegedale Vice Mayor Tim Johnson has lived in Collegedale for over 20 years along with his family. Johnson works at Cigna as a national accounts manager, he also has served the community as an advanced EMT since 1982 and volunteers at the Tri-Community Fire Department.
If elected, Johnson would enhance outdoor recreational activities with local parks spread out in the community, add to the Greenway space and build a community room at The Commons.
“Over the next four years, I would focus on these three projects,” Johnson said. “I will work with community leaders seeking donations to assist in funding these projects. We can get this accomplished with my help as a commissioner.”
CORRECTION (Sept. 25, 9:45 P.M.) An earlier version of this post wrongly addressed the Tri-Community Fire Department as “Tri-County Fire Department” on Chris Twombley’s profile. A correction has been made to address the mistake.