The Mayor's Parent Council
A PTA nominated council of parents representing all 79 of Hamilton County Schools. They’ll convene regularly to advise the Mayor on specific issues affecting their schools.
Weston’s first action as Hamilton County’s “Education Mayor” will be to create and activate the Mayor’s Parent Council with representatives from all 79 Hamilton County Schools. Nominated by their PTAS, these parents will advise the Mayor’s office about specific issues affecting their schools, including the annual budget and capital expenditures bonded by taxpayers.
More than 60 percent of the County budget is education, and quality public education is the critical component in workforce development, job recruitment and reducing crime. As the first public school parent to be County Mayor, Weston’s background as an entrepreneur and problem solver has given him the right experience to work closely alongside the Superintendent and elected School Board to take public education to a new level using existing resources. At a time of fundamental questions about the values reflected in our curriculum, facilities and school safety, an active Parent Council will ensure that County Government is responsive to the needs of Hamilton County students and parents.
His first action as Hamilton County’s Education Mayor will be to create and activate the Mayor’s Parent Council with representatives from all 79 Hamilton County Schools. These parents, nominated by their PTAS, will advise the Mayor’s office about specific issues affecting their schools, including the annual budget and capital expenditures bonded by taxpayers. At a time of fundamental questions about the values reflected in our curriculum, facilities and school safety, an active Parent Council will ensure that County Government is responsive to the needs of Hamilton County students and parents.
Future Focused Apprenticeships
An apprenticeship program led by the County Mayor that partners with future-focused employers to offer opportunities for paid work and career training as students finish their high school diploma.
Continuing his work as a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, which oversees our state’s 40 community and technical colleges, Weston has the right experience to organize and scale an apprenticeship program across multiple industries, serving all county high schools.
Weston believes that public education should be focused on equipping our young people for lives of productive work -- recommitting to vocational education by increasing high school access to trade certifications through our local state-run technical college. Working for pay while gaining valuable industry skills will be transformative for students in some of Hamilton County’s most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Inspired by existing apprenticeship models within the county, The Mayor’s Apprenticeship Initiative will have a profound impact on Hamilton County’s workforce and will positively affect other challenges in our high schools ranging from chronic absenteeism to crime.
Term Limits in Hamilton County
Weston’s experience with government and as the founder of a national nonprofit that fights wasteful government spending convinced him that term limits are needed at all levels of government, including in Hamilton County.
Weston will serve only two terms as County Mayor and will advocate for changes to the law that would place similar term limits on all elected officials in Hamilton County, with the exception of judges. All across the country where conservatives have enacted term limits, government has become more accountable and responsive. That is what happened in Knox County where voters opted for term limits in County Government in 1994 and never looked back. Politicians may not like it, but taxpayers will because it's good government.
Expanding Veterans Services Office
Ensuring county government serves the needs of those who served our country by doubling the Veterans Service Office staff over two years.
The measure of a community is how it serves its youngest and it’s oldest citizens – especially those who wore the uniform of our Armed Forces. County government’s Veterans Service office plays a critical role in supporting veterans and their families with services ranging from GI Bill applications to appeals for denied claims to burial benefits.
Until recently, one outstanding Veteran Service Officer fielded 400 calls per week from our county’s 22,000 veterans. Through Mayor Coppinger’s leadership, a second VSO was added in 2021. But fielding calls and paperwork often consumes the valuable time of these two valuable officials. Neighboring Bradley County, with 15,000 fewer veterans, employs two administrative assistants to provide adequate services to veterans. We should at least do the same and more, allowing our Veteran Service Officers to more frequently work remotely across the county from hubs like the one established at the VFW post in Soddy Daisy.
Transparency in County Government
Preserving the public trust through transparency of all ownership interests, including real estate, with investments being placed into a blind trust while in office.
The job of County Mayor comes with the enormous responsibility of serving as the Chief Executive Officer and “fiscal agent” of county government. The county’s wide-ranging oversight of new developments presents the potential for endless conflicts of interest for the County Mayor and other constitutional office holders. Likewise, the County Mayor’s direct involvement in job recruitment activities and economic development development efforts could pose conflicts with his or her personal real estate and investment portfolio.
In line with commitments made by Gov. Bill Lee and Chattanooga City Mayor Tim Kelly, Weston is committed to placing his investment portfolio in a blind trust, managed by professionals without Weston’s knowledge of how the assets are invested, to avoid the distractions and potential conflicts of interest that come with active management of assets while serving the public. Furthermore, Weston believes in full transparency of the real estate holdings, both direct and indirect through LLCs and partnerships, of county elected officials so the public can decide for itself whether conflicts exist.
Proactively Address Public Safety
Partnering with the Sheriff’s Office to scale Sheriff Hammond’s initiative to reduce recidivism through a work-based re-entry initiative for nonviolent offenders and re-allocate resources to invest in programs tailored to at-risk youth.
The vast majority of inmates being held at Silverdale are repeat offenders, wasting the valuable time of law enforcement, costing taxpayers money and clogging the criminal justice system. Sheriff Hammond has proposed a re-entry program focused on skilled labor, providing the opportunity for earnest, nonviolent inmates to change their lives and re-enter society as productive citizens. As County Mayor, Weston will bring expertise from his time serving Tennessee’s 27 technical colleges on the Tennessee Board of Regents to this new initiative to scale the program and will actively pursue partnerships with regional companies to employ nonviolent offenders who are attempting to put their lives back together.
Additionally, Weston will propose an urgent reprioritization of existing county resources to solicit RFPs for programs specially designed to serve at-risk youth who have been identified as heading down a path of criminal activity and gang membership. The success demonstrated by Y-CAP should serve as inspiration for entrepreneurial proposals aimed at providing hope and a future to children in our community’s most challenging neighborhoods. The Wamp family has a long history supporting Y-CAP, including Weston’s mother preparing meals for at-risk boys for a decade. Weston has seen the results up close and believes this program can be expanded across the county.
Common Sense COVID Policies
Adjusting to the reality that COVID is not going away, schools should go back to normal. Sports should be played, graduations should be in-person. Education is too important to politicize.
COVID is an emotional issue, but through competent leadership and clear communication from government leaders, Weston believes we must move on. Like Mayor Coppinger, Weston will monitor the local COVID situation in real-time with an emphasis on protecting vulnerable members of society as necessary. Reasonable protocols in the face of a once-in-century pandemic gave way to anti-science government overreach that continues to have profound mental health and developmental impacts on children. With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that mortality rates of school age children have not changed during the pandemic and vaccines allowed most senior citizens to return to normal. Simply put, children are not at risk from the virus, but their educational future is, as a result of fear-based policy. For many of our students, school is a safe-haven, the only place where they are loved and fed well.
We have a moral imperative to keep school open and in-person. In Tennessee, the county mayors of the largest counties were given authority to make COVID-related decisions. As County Mayor, Weston will prioritize truly vulnerable communities and act to reverse attempts to mask young children or further interfere with their education and development. No mandates.
A 2030 Roadmap for School Facilities
An eight-year plan to modernize Hamilton County Schools without a tax increase while interest rates are low.
In the eight years Weston intends to serve as County Mayor, county government can modernize its physical footprint to better serve parents and students with more customized learning, expanded career and vocational training and several new facilities. Hamilton County needs more than one dedicated vocational school, which lies in the north end of the county. Adding at least two more vocational schools, with a heavy emphasis on dual enrollment at TCAT-Chattanooga, will ensure students in all parts of our county can pursue a career in the skilled trades while finishing their high school diploma.
The most remarkable success in Hamilton County over the last decade is our new STEM School. The model has thrived while operating in auxiliary space on Chattanooga State’s campus, and it’s time to open a second one to give more opportunities to students wanting to pursue a career in STEM fields.
Weston will also propose a partnership between Hamilton County and the City of Chattanooga to create West Hamilton Middle/High School near downtown Chattanooga. This world-class, open enrollment school will be a priority stop for potential businesses considering relocating to Hamilton County.
On his first day in office, Weston will announce members of the Mayor’s Facilities Task Force, a group of community experts who will join Weston and Superintendent Justin Robertson to take all previous work on school facilities and create a master plan to modernize school facilities.
Smart, Responsible Growth
Explosive development in unincorporated portions of the county is stressing our infrastructure and threatening Hamilton County’s natural beauty. It’s time to think long-term.
Wastewater treatment challenges have dominated county politics for a decade without resolution while residential development has changed the landscape of large portions of the county. As county mayor, Weston will take a new approach to appointing commissioners to the Regional Planning Commission. For eight years, let’s adjust the makeup of the RPA Planning Committee to include voices from outside of the real estate and development industry.
Similarly, the Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority needs to be significantly depoliticized in order to best serve the long-term interests of the county. With Mayor Coppinger’s recent leadership, our community’s most pressing wastewater problems will be addressed. But moving forward, all county mayoral appointees will be intentionally non-political with an emphasis on engineering and customer service experience.
Hamilton Co. Volunteer Corps
Galvanizing communities of faith to partner with Hamilton County Schools to feed and teach our most vulnerable neighbors.
The generosity of Chattanooga’s faith communities is known around the world. But it’s time we put Hamilton First.
With an emphasis on reducing student food insecurity and improving early childhood literacy, the Hamilton County Volunteer Corps will engage communities of faith across Hamilton County to partner with local public schools to meet needs specific to that community.
Coordinated by the Mayor’s office, funding for Volunteer Corps will be shared between participating communities of faith as a statement of support for those in need within our own community. The government cannot and should not be expected to solve every problem, but rampant food insecurity and parental absenteeism within our public school system puts a burden too heavy on many of our teachers and principals. With the support of the new Mayor’s Volunteer Corps, we can put Hamilton First by mobilizing volunteers throughout Hamilton County.