Thursday, May 20, 2010

County Commission election forum follow-up

It appears that my efforts to put together a candidate forum for the District 2 general election will not be successful. As you probably know, a political discussion group I formed, The League of Signal Mountain Voters had an informal forum before the Republican primary between the two Republican candidates, Casavant and Fields. We had always planned to do another one for the general election between the primary winner and the independent candidate, David Cantrell.

Immediately after the primary, on May 6 to be exact I talked directly with both candidates to inform them of our plans and followed with up with an email that same day suggesting details. At that time I suggested that the middle two weeks of July would be ideal, due to early voting dates, but that I was open to other dates and suggestions. I lined up the auditorium at SMMHS for this with the support of Principal McCullough.

After not hearing anything for several days, I ran into Mr. Fields who stated he was waiting to talk with Mr. Cantrell. While I thought it unusual that the candidates were working together on this, I felt that at least we were making progress. I subsequently learned that Mr. Cantrell suggested the dates of June 5-19 and Mr. Fields said he wouldn't be able to make those dates. I followed up with the two candidates on May 17 and asked if they could confirm a date before May 22. This was for my convenience since I have to set my July work schedule by then. Mr. Fields said that he was unable to make that deadline. I told him that scheduling would be more difficult for me after that, but that I was still open to working with them. Mr. Cantrell stated that he could't do the third week in July (seemingly implying that was the only time I had offered to do this) and that he was working with "others" to put on a forum.

I then learned that Mr. Cantrell had contacted town manager Honna Rogers about putting on a forum, without telling her that I was working on such a forum. Frankly I think this was disingenuous on his part. In retrospect I wish I had informed her that I was doing this (I guess I thought she would have read this in my blog). I did not think the town would or should conduct this for several reasons. First, to my knowledge the town has not previously conducted forums for races other than the town council. More importantly, it is well known that the Cantrells are close social friends of the rest of the council. Annette Allen and her husband, John Shearburn have already donated $1000 to Mr. Cantrell's campaign (as of the last reporting period:,%20David%202010-04-24.pdf). I don't know if any of the others have donated to him since 4/24. Both Bill Lusk and Susan Robertson are listed as supportive on his campaign Facebook page and Bill Lusk's wife, Sandy has a link to Mr. Cantrell's site on her website: I have not found similar links to Mr. Fields' sites. Because of this I was concerned that any forum sponsored by the Council would be unlikely to be acceptable to Mr. Fields. This is why I kept my efforts separate.

It certainly seems that both candidates have told me to move on and that they are unable to make a commitment. Frankly, the fact that these two were unable to find 2 free hours between May 6 and August 5 to get together to discuss issues with the voters makes me wonder how they will find time to serve on a County Commission which is essentially a second job and quite a busy one, but that is a question for the voters to ask him (although I am one of those, aren't I?). While I remain open if the candidates request my involvement, I will no longer actively pursue this effort.

The League of Signal Mountain voters will continue, however with a meeting on Saturday, June 12 at 10am on the porch at Sweet Gipsy. Dr. Clif Cleaveland will update us on the status of the health care reform legislation recently passed with an emphasis on implementation schedules and implications. Dr. Cleaveland is a well-respected physician and very knowledgeable about health care policy. This should be an excellent discussion. These meetings are always open to anyone interested in open-minded and civil discussion of important issues.

Monday, May 17, 2010

County Commission election forum

I am still waiting to hear from the two candidates for a commitment to a candidate forum this July. I had asked for a commitment by this past weekend or certainly by the end of this week (frankly, this is for my sake because of my work schedule). Mr. Fields said he couldn't commit by the end of this week. I have not received a reply from Mr. Cantrell other than his initial "I'll get back to you" reply. If anyone out there knows either of these gentlemen and supports the idea of a forum, I would ask you to encourage them to contact me. I have the sponsorship of Signal Mountain Middle/High School since we are using their auditorium. I also have a commitment from the Community News to give this forum coverage (I haven't contacted other outlets such as TV or, yet. I was waiting for more specific dates). I am still hopeful this forum will occur. I feel strongly that the voters deserve more information to decide about these two gentlemen, especially as neither has served in public office before and therefore neither has a record. I encourage everyone to look at their campaign websites and ask them to be more specific about their specific stands on issues:

I do want to thank Mr. Cantrell for responding to my curiousity about his independent candidacy ( ).Frankly, I thought his response was pretty good. One of the pleasures of running for town council was the fact that it was a non-partisan race and this liberated me from being attached to any irrelevant national "party" issues. As Richard Casavant used to tell me "potholes don't have parties"... ie, local issues rarely fall down into partisan positions, so I certainly understand where Mr. Cantrell is coming from even though it does make it a harder race to run.

One other issue... I am going to start moderating responses to this blog. I do not intend to prevent anyone from responding to the issues I have covered. All the responses I have received to my blog issues have been appropriate and highly appreciated by me. However, somehow I am getting some occasional Chinese and Russian spam and even porn, which I do not want getting through, so plan to delete that. If you ever send a response and don't see it on here within a day, please email me ( and I'll be sure it gets there, but hopefully I can screen out the inappropriate and irrelevant nonsense. Ain't the internet a wonderful thing???

Thanks for the interest.
Paul M. Hendricks

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

County Commission election forum

As I have previously stated, I am working on putting together a candidate forum between County Commission candidates David Cantrell (I) and Jim Fields (R). I wanted to make something clear about our earlier forum. When we initially discussed having the forum held earlier between Mr. Fields and Mr. Casavant, I reminded the group that there was an independent candidate in the general election, Mr. Cantrell and asked if we should invite him. The consensus of the group was to only invite the candidates in the upcoming Republican primary. Our intent was always to have another forum between the winner of the Republican Primary and Mr. Cantrell before the general election. I am currently negotiating with the candidates to establish a date in July to hold this forum. SMMHS principal Tom McCullough has agreed to sponsor the forum in the auditorium at the high school. With two months to prepare, I hope for this forum to be better organized and better publicized than the last one which was admittedly a last minute affair. I am hoping that one function of the new organization we are forming, the League of Signal Mountain Voters will be to hold more forums such as this for local elections such as Town Council races (both for Signal Mountain and Walden) and County Commission and School Board races and maybe even state legislative elections. I'll post details when available.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

County Commission primary

I am obviously saddened by the loss of Richard Casavant in the County Commission race. I have great respect for Richard and his service to our town and county. Without Richard we would not have a high school on Signal Mountain according to Claude Ramsey (along with Chip Baker and the many, many friends of the High School).

I do congratulate Jim Fields on his victory and compliment him for his gracious comments about Dr. Casavant after the election.

As you should know, Mr. Fields will be running against David Cantrell in the general election on August 5. I honestly don't know Mr. Cantrell well at all, I've probably never said more than hello to him. I have had my differences with his wife, Melissa Cantrell who is the chair of the Planning Commission, though I realize that shouldn't reflect on him. I do know that he and his wife were strong supporters of and campaign workers for Joe Dumas during Joe's last political campaign which clearly raises red flags in regards to his support for public education. Other than the initial announcement article in the Chattanoogan:( )I have heard nothing of what his positions are or his reasons for running. I am, of course always curious about reasons why someone runs as an "independent". I really don't know his politics except that his wife once implied to me that they were Democrats (in an email from Ms. Cantrell she said to me "I've even been told that you are a Democrat - not a bad thing in my household"). Clearly if he was to run as a Democrat the primary field would have been clear. So, that is a question I would like to ask.

I was quite appalled at the lack of opportunity for the candidates to present their views to the voters. As you know, I put together a last minute forum for the two Republican candidates which suffered from being last minute. I plan to work towards putting together a forum this summer for Mr. Fields and Mr. Cantrell to present their views to the public. Details are pending, but I will work at publicizing it as much as possible.

Finally, I was also appalled at the pitiful turnout for this election. Less than 8.5% of Hamilton County voters voted. That is shameful. Stuart James commented on this on his blog: . I hope that we can get better attention on the upcoming general election this summer (August 5) and fall.