The people of East Ridge have pretty simple needs from our government, when it comes right down to it. We want low taxes, good schools, and to be left alone. Joda Thongnopnua will run roughshod over these simple needs if elected as District 30’s state representative. Let’s start with his platform, annotated:
“I will fight to expand Medicaid.”
Remember what happened last time we tried this, several years ago? A bunch of adults got on TennCare and spending went through the roof. Phil Bredesen wrecked the budget and emptied the road fund to give these folks false hope for a couple of years, then kicked them off anyway. Let’s not go down that path again. Ms. Helton will focus on cutting healthcare prices rather than taxing-and-spending.
“I am a fierce advocate for stronger public schools, higher teacher pay, and fully-funded classrooms…”
Ok, we can all get behind the first third of that sentence. The rest of it is ominous.
Hamilton County already spends almost half a billion (yes big B billion) dollars a year on our schools – about 60% of our total county budget. Just last year, we had an effective 11% property tax hike for school funding. Our spending per student is third from the top out of all the school districts in Tennessee, but our achievement levels are near the bottom.
We’re spending inefficiently rather than not enough, and the idea that we should throw more money down the drain rather than stop the leak is irresponsible. Ms. Helton has concrete policy proposals to improve early childhood literacy, and was endorsed by Tennesseeans for Quality Early Education. No blind tax-and-spend from her here either.
“I believe in raising the minimum wage…”
If you want to see East Ridge’s economic boom disappear faster than a Vols lead under Butch Jones, this is the way to do it. New businesses, especially the many quick-service restaurants we just opened, run on razor-thin margins; a 40% increase in labor costs (minimum wage hike from $7.25 to $10) will cause them to fail. New businesses will locate in Ringgold or Fort Oglethorpe instead. The loss of border region and local option money will force a property tax hike.
Keep in mind that every Tennessean has access to free vocational training and high-paying jobs through the TN Promise and Reconnect scholarship programs. If you still favor closing businesses and raising taxes to fund wealth redistribution, then go ahead and vote Thongnopnua. The common-sense crowd that wants growth, jobs, and prosperity for East Ridge will vote Helton.
For a final look at who Mr. Thongnopnua will really represent if elected, let’s take a look at his financial disclosures, here. His disclosure forms mostly list big donations from downtown Chattanooga, with some contributions from Nashville, New York, and California. Very few 37412 addresses are listed. Notably, there is a small donation from Demetrus Coonrod, the convicted child abuser currently serving on the Chattanooga City Council who wants to “ban the box,” a euphemism for forcing employers to hire felons. Which candidate do you think will be tough on crime: Joda, the candidate with Ms. Coonrod’s support; or the NRA-endorsed Esther Helton?
If you want a candidate to represent downtown far-left activists, vote Thongnopnua. If you want a candidate to represent East Ridge values, vote Helton. It really is that simple.
_ Charles McCullough