For the upcoming elections in November, Rossville voters will have two choices for mayor: incumbent Teddy Harris, and Gary M. Anderson, who is retired. There are two council seats to be filled and four candidates: incumbent Michael Hicks; Larry Rose, a business owner; Anthony Robinson, a sales consultant; and Hal Gray, a part-time police officer and business owner.
Early voting for the elections is Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Oct. 14 through Nov. 1. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 5, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voting will take place at the Rossville Civic Center, 400 McFarland Ave.
For more information: https://walkercountyga.gov/residents/elections.
MAYORAL CANDIDATES Teddy Harris (incumbent)
Government experience: Mayor of Rossville since 2012; city councilman for eight years before that
Education/work/experience: Multiple certificates of recognition, achievement and excellence from the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government, Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) schools (Robert E. Knox Leadership Institute, Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute) and Georgia Academy for Economic Development; appointed honorary Lt. Col. Aide-de-camp by Gov. Nathan Deal; served on GMA Legislative Policy Council Oct. 2015-July 2018; member of the Council of Elected Officials (NW Georgia Regional Commission); advisory board member of Blood Assurance; board member of Southern Cross Ministries; Rossville Lions Club member
Problems city is facing: Sewer system and stormwater draining into it during heavy rains, which can cost the city an extra $40,000-$50,000 a month in fees. Rossville’s sewer system is old, full of cracks and even has springs feeding into it. There is no easy fix – just keep working on it.
What has been going right with the city: I feel the ship has turned for the city when it comes to revitalization. We’re part of a federal opportunity zone that makes it easier to get grants, we hired a full-time codes enforcer for the first time ever, we have an economic development consultant, we have businesses relocating their headquarters from Chattanooga to Rossville, many of them into the Peerless buildings that they’re renovating. Prater Floors, Mid-South Mattresses, S&H Trucking, Hudlow Axle have all moved to Rossville. Western Electric has located in the old Food Lion. An Amigos restaurant is opening in one of the Peerless outbuildings.
Vision for city: Be pro-business, continue to court investors, go after more grants, keep working on the sewer system, make the John Ross Commons more pedestrian-friendly.
Local/state elected officials candidate admires: Senator Jeff Mullis, Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield, LaFayette Mayor Andy Arnold, Lookout Mountain Mayor David Bennett
Quote: “I go after as much education as I can. I believe in being pro-business, helping businesses do great things. People sometimes complain about the broken windows on the front of Peerless, but when Georgia Tech came up and did a study, they recommended that the owners restore the front of the building instead of tearing it down. Right now, the owners are busy renovating other parts of the mill for business use, so we’re choosing to be patient rather than force them to replace all that glass before they know what they want to do up there. I think Rossville is on a good path.”
Gary M. Anderson
Education/work/experience: Retired now; Bachelor’s Degree from West Georgia College (Russian Imperial Studies); member of two national honor societies; manager of three radio stations; director of addiction programs at Scholze Center for seven years; sales and marketing development for Canteen Food Services; business development for Northwest Georgia Bank and Cornerstone Bank; 30+ years working in substance abuse recovery (still do some consulting and referral work for treatment centers and help individuals); Voice of the Rossville Bulldogs the last five years of Rossville High School – I think some of the city’s pride left when the high school closed.
Problems city is facing: I grew up in Rossville and I hate to see what’s happened to it. The average income for a family of four in Rossville is $17,500. When taxpayers live on an income like that and have to be frugal, government should be frugal, too. We need to lower city taxes for residents by bringing in more business. We need better lighting in the city – only bad things can happen in bad lighting. People are buying cheap property in the city and sitting on it, waiting for the value to go up – we need people who will invest and put properties into use. We need to clean up the Rossville-Chattanooga line. The sewer system in Rossville is a huge problem.
What has been going right with the city: I think we have a great city council but it’s time for change in the mayor’s office. We have a great person working on economic development. We have some businesses moving into the city, but we have a long way to go.
Vision for city: There’s a lot of traffic on Highway 27 and McFarland Avenue. We need to give those people a reason to stop by promoting business. A lot of businesses need warehouse space – we have that to offer and it’s affordable and accessible. Chattanooga is running out of affordable housing and we can offer that by encouraging investment. We need to bring in more industry and retail. We should be working with Chattanooga to clean up the state line and we should be learning from what they’ve done on Main Street and South Broad. When investors see opportunity they want reassurance that it’s stable and sustainable – we need to show them we can offer that.
Local/state elected officials candidate admires: Rossville Councilman Rick Buff, Hamilton County Trustee Bill Hullander, Chattanooga City Court Judge Russell Bean.
Quote: “I grew up in Rossville and I love the city. You have to go after what you want and do things in a timely manner or they pass you by. Rossville has been passed by for a long time, but it doesn’t have to continue. You have to plant, water, nurture and pay attention to make things grow. Energy creates energy. You have to keep making things happen.”
Online: facebook.com/profile.php?id=100040321593187 Note: Gary Anderson is holding a campaign rally on Oct. 22 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Loose Cannon Art Gallery, 1800 Rossville Ave., Chattanooga. There will be refreshments, entertainment and discussion.
CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES Michael Hicks (incumbent)
Government experience: Almost four years on Rossville City Council
Education/work experience: In real estate business for 18 years; Georgia Municipal Association courses in recreation, law enforcement, grant funding, economic development, downtown development; on the Rossville Downtown Development Authority board; on the Walker County Chamber of Commerce board; President of Rossville Kiwanis.
Problems city is facing: We were without real codes enforcement for so long that properties got let go, which led to a downturn; we lost our schools, which led to a loss of pride; too many houses owned by out-of-town landlords who neglect them.
What has been going right with the city: We have a new codes enforcement officer and that’s helping turn things around – when new businesses consider locating someplace, one of the first things they want to know is how your codes enforcement is; we’ve become a Federal Opportunity Zone; we’ve gotten some grants for the John Ross Commons, thanks to Elizabeth Wells and the Redev Workshop working to improve Rossville.
Vision for city: More grants or SPLOST money for recreation facilities; add things for kids to do – the gym at the old high school would make a good community center; find more investors for positive investment
Local/state elected officials candidate admires: Rossville Councilman Brad Buff, Ringgold Councilman Randall Franks, Chickamauga Councilman Evitte Parrish, Chickamauga Councilman Lee Miller, Sen. Jeff Mullis; I get along with pretty much everybody.
Quote: “I took a trip around the city the other day and the difference between how things were six months ago and how they are now is the difference between night and day. People are keeping their property up better – there’s a lot of improvement. Rossville is primed for growth.”
Government experience: Rossville Downtown Development Authority for one term
Education/work experience: Business owner since 1978 (Rose Powersports); in management at Nissan in the past
Problems city is facing: Crime is a big issue
Vision for city: I want to see more openness and honesty in government; we have a good police department but we need more officers; we need to get more aggressive toward crime; we need more lighting in the city
Local/state elected officials candidate admires: Sen. Jeff Mullis
Quote: “I’ve lived in Rossville my whole life. I have a business here. I’m staying here, but we sugarcoat Rossville too much and someone is going to get hurt. We have a serious crime problem. My business was shot at in August and September and other businesses in town were shot at on the same dates and other times. Someone shot a hole through the front window of my business on Sept. 18 and glass hit me in the face and bounced off the wall and hit me in the back of the head. We need to face the problem we have with crime and do something about it.”
Education/work/experience: Currently sales consultant with Nissan Chattanooga East; T-Mobile coach for six years; have always worked in management roles directing and coaching people
Problems city is facing: Image – the way Rossville is seen physically and financially; need to work more on McFarland Ave., Maple St., the mills.
What has been going right with the city: The crime rate has dropped significantly over the years. Rossville is an inexpensive and peaceful place to live.
Vision for city: I’d like to see more entrepreneurship, small businesses. Having a lot of small businesses attracts bigger businesses. We need to do more work on the mills, bring in more restaurants, give tax breaks and incentives. I’d like to see more emphasis on parks and recreation, go into schools and let parents know where their children can play safely and securely.
Local/state elected officials candidate admires: Rossville Mayor Teddy Harris.
Quote: “I try to be a leader to everyone, especially to kids – my own and others. I’m passionate about people. I want kids to have safe, nurturing places to grow up. I try to keep God first and keep a spiritual mindset. I like to talk to people face-to-face, look people in the eye, shake hands. I care about people.”
Government/work experience: Eight years (2008-2015) as a Rossville city councilman; in law enforcement since 1986; Rossville police officer for 17 years (patrol and sergeant); studied criminal justice at Dalton State College; city council liaison to Rossville Downtown Development Authority; currently part time police officer and owner of H&H Lawn and Landscapes
Problems city is facing: Lack of working together on city council; need to modernize and upgrade the city; crime coming over the state line from Chattanooga
What has been going right with the city: Rossville has run in the black for about 20 years; all the departments work hard and make do with what they have.
Vision for city: When I was at the helm of the Rossville Downtown Development Authority, we got alcohol in so we could get better restaurants, like Amigos – we need to get more restaurants in; we need more businesses; we need more manpower on the police force
Quote: “I’ve devoted my whole life to Rossville. People asked me to run because they have faith in me.”