Candidates in Chattanooga City Council District 3 presented their platforms together for the final time Wednesday before a lunch gathering of the Hixson Council.
Candidate Ken Smith and Councilwoman Pam Ladd spoke to a group of approximately 75 people, who had submitted questions beforehand. The candidates outlined their goals for serving on the city's governing body, for issues in both District 3 and the city at large.
Smith, who works as chief information officer for The Johnson Group, said his top priorities, if elected, would be addressing crime and road conditions in the area.
"Most people will bring both of those issues up to me immediately," Smith said.
Smith said he would focus on prioritizing police and fire needs to deter crime. Smith emphasized his recent endorsements from various police and fire labor groups.
"They endorsed me because I understand that crime is the No. 1 issue that needs to be addressed," he said.
Ladd, a former owner of Custom Custodial Inc., who was first elected in 2009, said her top focus would be working to address construction and infrastructure needs in the area. Ladd said Hixson was home to two of "the worst roads in Chattanooga," Lakeshore Drive and Hamill Road.
"Road construction and infrastructure issues are critical to Hixson," Ladd said.
Ladd said she hoped to review a long-term plan for the area, especially in light of the recent 190-acre Chattanooga Village proposal, which was rejected by the City Council in a 5-3 vote last month.
"The Chattanooga Village really tested us," she said. "It's rare that you'll get that much acreage in Chattanooga to get developed … We need to look at the gray areas, and we need codes that tell us exactly what's acceptable and what's not."
When asked for their thoughts on annexation, Smith said he was not in favor of the city adding more areas inside its boundaries when current services being offered were not adequate. Ladd said the best solution to annexation issues would be the formation of a metro government.
When asked about challenges regarding the Hixson Community Center, Smith said city programs offered at the center, such as free dance lessons, had made nearby taxpaying business owners unhappy. Ladd said the dance lessons were a service to the community, many of which may not be able to afford similar private programs.
In closing, Ladd asked the group to support her once more for a second term in council.
"You've had the opportunity to test my mettle," she said. "You know that I will return your calls, that I will return your emails and that I will get you an answer. Sometimes, it's not the answer that you want to hear, but I will get you an answer."
Smith said he decided to run after hearing an overwhelming outcry for change.
"We've got to get our city government back to focusing on public safety before focusing on spending taxpayer dollars on nonessential services," Smith said.
To read more about the candidates, please visit the Keen Citizen voter guide.