Earl Henderson, a Navy veteran and former Ringgold City Council member, announced Wednesday, May 12, that he’s seeking a seat on the council.
Henderson, noted for being Ringgold’s first African-American elected official, said he brings with him a passionate dedication to Ringgold’s citizens, a love for serving our city’s youth, and lasting accomplishments that have improved the quality of life for all of Ringgold’s citizens.
The 62-year-old father to three children and grandfather to five said he will continue the work he started in making Ringgold a place for all people.
“This is your city,” Henderson said. “Whether you are young or old, white or black, rich or poor, Ringgold belongs to its citizens. Our government must always put our people first. During my first term, I worked hard to bring the things the people wanted: parks, recreation, and opportunity. That work has paid dividends in an improved quality of life. If elected to a second term, I pledge to continue the work I helped begin and move our city forward.”
Henderson, first elected to the Ringgold City Council in 2013, spent his term in office championing projects that, he said, have since become beloved Ringgold destinations. He played a decisive leadership role in bringing the Little General Children’s Park to fruition. Despite encountering initial opposition from some, he ensured that the park developed into the popular attraction for families of all ages that it is today, Henderson said.
Henderson was also instrumental in leading the council to purchase and develop property for Depot Square, where the new Jefferson’s restaurant is locating.
Other notable achievements of Henderson’s first term include clearing the way for the creation of the soccer fields at the Ringgold Recreational Complex and the construction of Joe Barger Pedestrian Bridge crossing over Nashville Street near the Depot.
“Of all of my achievements, I think I’m most proud of helping to create the Little General Children’s Park.” Henderson said. “It took vision, determination, and the efforts of so many of our citizens to make it into reality. Before the park, there wasn’t a central location for families, especially those with young children, to enjoy recreation. Now I see families using that park every single day of the week.”
If elected to a second term, Henderson said, his vision includes extending the popular nature trails, expanding the use of the South Chickamauga Creek system, creating a signage and way-finding system for residents and tourists to locate downtown attractions, and the promotion of economic development along Ringgold’s three Interstate exits.
“We are going to bring opportunity to Ringgold like never before. I don’t want people to think they have to live in Ringgold but work someplace else. I want our city to be a community for all aspects of life.”
Henderson has been married to Sharon Henderson for 14 years. Born in Chattanooga, he moved to Ringgold in 1969 and has lived in the city ever since, with the exception of serving in the US Navy between 1981 and 1986. A graduate of Ringgold High School, he retired from a career working at the local Advance Auto Parts after 25 years and has spent the past two years as a school bus driver for Catoosa County Public Schools.
“As far as jobs are concerned, being a school bus driver has been my favorite job I’ve ever had,” Henderson said. “I feel great pride and personal responsibility in safely delivering our community’s young people to their schools, their ball fields, and all their events. You feel a great sense of connection and responsibility for the future.”
Henderson kicked off his campaign by pledging to knock on hundreds of doors by election day (Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021) in an effort to meet and greet Ringgold voters and hear their needs and concerns.
“I’m going to every porch, every front door, and talking to voters all across this city,” Henderson said. “I want every single citizen of this city equally represented in its government. We are a growing city with new and old faces alike. If elected, I promise to be a councilman for all of our residents.”