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District 4 Commission Candidates Q&A

News Editor

Incumbent Melissa C. Bradford and challenger Bella Donna are running for the Dade County Commissioner District 4 seat, which is a four-year term. Both Dade County and Trenton city elections are on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Donna and Bradford spoke about themselves, and the issues important to them and to the county for this upcoming election.

Candidate and incumbent Melissa C. Bradford:
Q. Please tell everyone about yourself. What is your background?
A. As a Lookout Mountain resident and mother of three teenage boys in the Dade County School system, I have a vested interest in the community and the success of the local government. I started my career as a Dade County certified appraiser. I took time to build and raise my boys. Cash my youngest, was premature. My husband and I had to be an advocate of his medical health. This helped me to communicate and navigate the medical world. He is now 13, recently had his pacemaker removed, and is doing great. My career moved forward in leading business start-ups. My genuine love for the area, my desire to help everyone, and success in navigating the process to move important issues for the county forward, has solidified my commitment to continue serving Dade County.

Q. Why are you deciding to run for commissioner?
A. It was clear to me to run for District 4 Commissioner after working and passing the ABC ordinance the people of Dade County previously voted to get done. I also enjoy working with the Historic Preservation Commission with the Dade County Courthouse.

Q. What do you think are important issues for the county? What do you think is the biggest challenge/issue that the county faces?
A. The county is facing challenges to manage proper growth without impeding the rights of the people. I plan to listen and help move growth in the right areas. I will also move forward additional items the people have previously voted for and take a deeper dive into operations I oversee to make them more cost effective.

Q. What are your goals for your term, if you win?
A. My goals as District 4 Commissioner are to listen and help the people of Dade County.

Q. Why do you think you are the right candidate for the position?
A. I am the best candidate because I bring realist, logical mind set backed from a perspective of research. I have completed most of my commissioner courses to be a certified commissioner. I also have proved I can stand on my own and see a project through.

Candidate Bella Donna:

Q. Please tell everyone about yourself. What is your background?
A. Management, English- Professional Writing, Oriental Bodywork, Biblical Studies with a minister’s license, along with having completed programs and done work as a Certified Financial Planner, and paralegal. Most of my working career was spent as a computer and business consultant, and doing websites. For the past 20 years, I have operated my own business as a holistic healthcare practitioner and beekeeper. The beekeeping came into play as a result of using bee products for health and healing.
The most important parts of my life began early, as a young mother of two great kids, who were home schooled before anyone else even heard of it. At the time it was illegal in most of the United States. I passed policies in western Pennsylvania in the early 80s so that others behind me could easily follow a procedure and not be threatened with lawsuits for caring about their own children’s education. The policy was adopted by many other school districts in and around the state.
My home schooling involved teaching my children life skills. As well as reading, math, science, and all the typical subject matter, my kids learned critical thinking, budgeting, gardening, cooking, kindness, caring for others, and important aspects of being a human being. My daughter is now an adult and spends a lot of time feeding and caring for the homeless and disadvantaged in Chattanooga where she has lived for the past five years. I moved to Rising Fawn shortly after she did to be closer to her. She was living in Florida, and I had been in central Arizona for 20 years.
For the past 15 years I have volunteered with local food banks, including here at Sand Mountain and Piney Church. I have worked with young people in programs like Kiwanis Kids, after school programs, state park junior ranger programs, and so many kids one-on-one that I couldn’t count them all. I also worked with the 10-year community development program on a trail mapping portion to completion.
I love and care about the little people; they are our future. I’d like to leave them a better world than what they came into.
Q. Why are you deciding to run for commissioner?
A. I had a lot of encouragement from friends and family members. From feedback I am hearing, it is based on my ability to set and accomplish goals, as well as caring for the people and communities.

Q. What do you think are important issues for the county?
A. The important issues for counties, like individuals, are somewhat always a moving target. I believe that a controlled, reasonable, and balanced budget offers the best base for accomplishing prioritized goals. So based on that, a big issue, in my opinion, is budgetary concerns. I also believe, and especially now during times of such uncertainty and dare I say “chaos,” that transparency is vital.
Q. What do you think is the biggest challenge/issue that the county faces?
A. The biggest challenges I see currently are:
1. The community being able to come together united, rather than divided. 2. Getting through the next year in such a time of global uncertainty, which is and will continue to impact each person from their personal level to their children’s, to their work and income, and even for many, just surviving. The community needs to pull together for this to happen as painlessly as possible. 3. Budgetary issues are also a hot topic that seems to need addressed.

Q. What are your goals for your term, if you win?
A. If I win this election the most important efforts, I feel, would be getting community input of their priorities. Mine are really unimportant as a representative of the people. While that is being done, I would look through the county budget with a fine-tooth comb. As with a personal budget, the answer is not always, “making more money” but “trimming the fat.” I would also like to look at possibilities of forming community forums for different aspects of government, which could make it more self-governing- from the bottom up rather than the top down. If this is already being done, I haven’t heard of it.
B. I am only the right candidate if the residents of Dade County want things done. Again, I am not one to just talk about doing things; I actually work to accomplish what is needed. And work hard I would do for the people I represent. I have years of experience in project management and it’s just a natural way of moving along – day-to-day, month-to-month, and year-to-year. This great community and geographical area have so much potential. As a newcomer with fresh, clean vision, I believe I could help move things forward into a great future for us all.

The last two days of early voting are Thursday, Oct. 28, and Friday, Oct. 29. All precinct-voting locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day.


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