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City Council Oak Ridge {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

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    Jim Dodson
    (I)

  • Candidate picture

    Derrick M. Hammond
    (I)

  • Chuck Hope, Jr.
    (I)

  • Edward Jackson, Jr.
    (I)

Biographical Information

What prompted you to seek (or attempt to retain) a seat on the City Council?

What improvements to the city infrastructure, (e.g., transportation, internet access, public utilities, etc.) do you feel are the most urgent?

What do your feel are the top three priorities for the Council in the coming term?

What fiscal challenges (e.g., those due to COVID-19) do you anticipate in the next few years, and what can be done to compensate?

What unique experience/qualifications would you bring to this office if elected?

When I ran for Oak Ridge City Council in 2016, I realized that we live in a fantastic town with wonderful citizens and that we needed to promote Oak Ridge more as great place to live, work, and play. Our “Secret City” didn’t need to be a secret anymore. Over the past four years, I have made it a personal mission to continue to promote our community and build on its history and strengths by helping to provide safe neighborhoods, continued economic development, and supporting our excellent city schools. Hopefully, if I am re-elected as your city councilmember for the next four years we can continue to support our community together.
We have a quality staff working for the citizens of Oak Ridge, but our infrastructure is old and, in some instances, failing. We are on a course to replace our water treatment facility within the next two years providing a reliable source of clean water to our community. This project is expensive but through low interest loans with payments spread out over several years we will not burden the public with the need to raise taxes measurably to pay for the upgrade. Providing low cost easily accessible high-speed internet access is more important today than it was when I first took office in 2016. The global pandemic we are currently experiencing has made working and learning from home an important fact of life and if possible, I would like to work to provide this important utility to all our residents. Finally, our roads and sidewalks are still in need of repair to provide safe automobile and pedestrian travel.Our public works department is working hard to target the most needed repairs.
Working with the citizens of Oak Ridge and with our city and schools’ staff we should continue to identify areas of improvement. Recently our Municipal Planning Commission developed a City Blueprint that communicated these ideas and needs to our City Council. Some of the priorities identified by our community were the same as I would have identified. Our community would like to continue working to improve our neighborhoods with updated, safe, and clean homes at affordable prices. I am committed to supporting this goal and building on our recent successes such as The Preserve at Clinch River, Harbor Point, Wolf Creek, and other new residential development. Progress continues for a true downtown district for Oak Ridge. This has been identified by our largest employers as a need to keep their employees in Oak Ridge instead of them living in surrounding towns. This downtown district would need to be mixed-use providing residential, offices, green spaces, small shops, art galleries, etc.
Many residents of Oak Ridge continue to live paycheck to paycheck and the pandemic has made it almost impossible to be parent, teacher, and bread winner for the family. While our city more recently stepped up to provide relief and assistance with utilities by extending a grace period for paying utilities as well as working with organizations like Aide to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties to assist families in need, I would like to see more assistance with internet connectivity by our city as a priority in the coming years so that all Oak Ridgers have equal access to learn and work.
Given my experience as a teacher and knowledge of the importance that a quality school system plays in our community, I will continue to work with our residents to support educational opportunities for our youth while bettering the quality of life in our community. I would also continue to work toward a vibrant downtown while also focusing on completing projects like the Rails to Trails intuitive and other uniquely Oak Ridge amenities. And finally, I will continue to build on and work with our Arts Community to advocate for the importance the Arts in Oak Ridge. Over the past few years, I have collaborated with local businesses and arts organizations to place art in our town encouraging hometown pride.
Campaign Phone (865) 399-2763
Remarks It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the citizens of Oak Ridge on City Council. I am seeking re-election to continue my commitment to work hard to make Oak Ridge the best it can be and to ensure that all citizens have a voice in the future of our community.
Arriving in 2014 to serve as pastor of Oak Valley Baptist Church, my immediate vision was for us be a premier community for young families and retirees alike. Having worked tirelessly as a community leader to manifest this vision, I was unanimously appointed to city council in July 2018 and ran unopposed for the 2-yr unexpired term that November. I have successfully completed the unexpired term and hope to continue building on the momentum Council has gained in the critical areas of affordable housing, infrastructure improvements and development of a walkable, mixed-use downtown area.

I firmly believe that Oak Ridge is destined to be a premier community for young families and retirees alike – a place where every citizen is integrated into the life of the community and is an equal participant.
Oak Ridge is currently involved in several infrastructure projects that include but are not limited to major utility and accounting software upgrades, the Gateway project (an entrance sign to Oak Ridge near the Solway bridge), completion of Blankenship Field, and the CSX Rails to Trails project.

The two most urgent upcoming infrastructure projects, however, include 1) design and completion of a new 16 million gallon per day water plant and piping system, which is projected to cost about $60 million and 2) completion of a series of major roofing projects: The Public Works Service Center, the library, Robertsville Middle School, the 1010 Building and portions of the High School.

In addition to the above, we must also bring several public areas of Oak Ridge into ADA compliance.
1) Affordable Housing- Due to significant residential growth, we project an excess of 200 new, affordable homes for the year. City Council must ensure this growth is sustained. City Council must also ensure we don’t price our disadvantaged and underprivileged population out of the city, historically known as gentrification.

2) Infrastructure Improvements- see previous question on infrastructure

3) Development of Mixed-Use Downtown- Our “economic endgame” must be a viable downtown area. Per one global economist with whom I spoke, the greatest hinderance to our economic growth has been a lack of vision for the downtown area. So, using the City Blueprint as a basis, Council must prioritize economic development projects that communicate the vision for our downtown area to potential investors; demonstrate commitment to that vision and involve collaboration with key partners to ensure that both concerns of the community and needs of developers are sufficiently represented
The financial outlook for the city remains positive, even with COVID-19, due to several strong fiscal decisions made by Council prior to the pandemic. For instance, we moved forward with developing the main street area with several retail stores that significantly increased sales tax revenues. We also restructured our agreement with TVA that resulted in millions of dollars in savings as well. Yet further, sales tax revenues continue to increase due to the full sales impact of the Uranium Processing Facility project.

That said, our greatest fiscal challenge will involve how we approach the major capital projects listed above. The water plant project alone is about $60 million and ADA upgrades throughout the city total over $24 million; not to mention we have recently accepted oversight responsibility of the Oak Ridge airport project. We anticipate compensating by slowing non-critical capital costs for the first six months of next year and continuously examining our fiscal health.
Oak Ridge is currently experiencing exceptional economic and community development, and making substantial progress toward the establishment of a prominent downtown area. So, in addition to the challenges mentioned above, my top priority will be to ensure disadvantaged and disenfranchised citizens are beneficiaries of the growth as well.

I would continue leveraging my unique role as a pastor, councilman, and community leader to keep the faith and non-profit communities informed, in addition to citizens, about city activities and engaged in community conversations. Additionally, I am uniquely qualified to serve as a strong voice for equity and justice, as evidenced by my involvement with the Oak Ridge peaceful protests; which included a public prayer for police officers and facilitation of a community conversation between Police Chief Robin Smith and local area youth.

As I often say, “When we say, ‘Oak Ridge is moving forward,’ I want us to mean that all of Oak Ridge is moving forward
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