By Zoe Morton, Staff Writer–
Mocs Go Vote partnered with Chattanooga State Community College and the Mayor’s Youth Council to invite students to direct questions to candidates for the city council in a series of forums this past week.
Mocs Go Vote is UTC’s initiative to increase voter turnout across the campus, and typically hosts events surrounding both national, state, and local elections. However, with COVID, these events have been canceled and moved online.
Dr. Chris Acuff, an assistant professor of public administration, discussed some of the reasons he hopes local students will turn out and vote.
“A lot of students chose to go to school in Chattanooga for a reason, whether that’s outdoor activities, culture, or nightlife. If you want to stay here, you want affordable housing, you want a lot of things,” Acuff said. “Those are all things the local government impacts.”
He goes on to say how easy communicating with local government is, and how simple it can be to get involved. From public meetings about budget or development, or just sending a quick email, letting your local council members in Chattanooga know what’s important to you is a relatively simple process.
This election nominates council members to represent Chattanooga’s nine districts, as well as the next mayor. Currently, 21 people are running for council and 25 running for mayor.
During the city council forums, students were able to ask questions directly to the candidates about issues that concerned them.
Katy Dailey, a graduate student at UTC, asked Dennis Clark, “Your campaign slogan ‘Opportunity For All’ is truthful because when reading your policies, it is evident that is what you will work toward. In your own definition, what does equality mean for you? How important is it in the city of Chattanooga in these divisive times?”
Dailey’s question resonated with Clark, but also many other students around the Chattanooga area.
Candidates received many questions concerning the future of Chattanooga, public transportation, and how students tie into plans for the city.
UTC’s campus mainly resides in District 8, however, West Campus housing is in District 7. District 8 has three councilmen running for election, D’andre Anderson, Anthony Byrd, and Marie Mott.
District 7, on the other hand, which represents West Campus housing among others, has two candidates running, Raquetta Dotley and Ken Hayes. Both Dotley and Hayes are seeking to protect neighborhoods and support schools in Chattanooga.
Early voting in Hamilton County begins Wednesday, Feb. 10 through Thursday, Feb. 25, with Election Day on Tuesday, March 2.
To watch what Chattanooga’s future Council Members had to say, Mocs Go Vote is uploading the forums to this Youtube channel this week. In conjunction with this, the initiative is also planning to post information on both the Mocs Go Vote webpage and on the Instagram account @mocsinthecity.