published Monday, November 28th, 2011

First Democrat throws hat into 2012 Hamilton County mayor race

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    University of Tennessee at Chattanooga professor Richard Wilson

Who should be Hamilton County mayor?

The first Democrat took steps Monday to enter the 2012 race for Hamilton County mayor.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga political science professor Richard "Rick" Wilson picked up qualifying papers and announced his plan at the Hamilton County Democratic Party's annual Estes Kefauver Dinner.

"I am available to be a candidate if there is sufficient support within the Democratic Party," Wilson said.

A special election will be held next year to fill the remainder of former Mayor Claude Ramsey's term, which ends in 2014. Ramsey left to become deputy governor of Tennessee in January.

The County Commission appointed Commissioner Jim Coppinger county mayor until the 2012 elections.

Wilson, a Fulbright scholar who's been a faculty member at UTC since 1971, proposed a "tax limitation" plan that would work toward consolidated city/county general services while locking in a tax rate.

"My fundamental concern is to get jobs. To get jobs, you need economic development," he said. "In order to do something about economic development, you have to do something about taxes."

Coppinger, who is running in the Republican primary, said he's holding his first fundraiser this week but already has raked in more than $78,000 -- including money from Democrats.

"I've always had Democratic support when I've run in elections," he said. "Obviously it's a healthy thing, and it's good when people show they can work with any party."

Basil Marceaux Sr., also a Republican, said he submitted his qualifying papers last week.

"The more people running, the lower amount of people to win," he said.

Richard Ford, an independent who works at Miller Industries, refuses to raise funds, citing his concerns about money in politics.

"The more the merrier," Ford said of Wilson's potential entry into the race.

Candidates have until Dec. 8 at noon to qualify.

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about Ansley Haman...

Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...

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Emersization said...

Have fun, I hope you don't expect to win.

November 29, 2011 at 12:32 a.m.
ldurham said...

Hey don't go to any trouble, TFP, but you may want to look into this guy's employment record at UTC. You might find a complaint or two.

November 29, 2011 at 8:19 a.m.
stuartfjames said...

The Democrats have a problem coming out of the starting gate with Professor Wilson, and it is best illustrated by this statement from the Professor:

"I am available to be a candidate if there is sufficient support within the Democratic Party," Wilson said according to the Free Press Article below.

Mr. Wilson statements makes his candidacy non committal. In order to win this race he needs to appear to be decisive, an alternative, a candidate with answers. When will he have that support he says he needs? When will he decide to be a candidate? How does he determine when he has sufficient support within the Democratic Party to run, does this mean if there is a contested primary he won't run? Too much indecision coming out of the starting get. Wilson must commit and never look back otherwise his candidacy is a non starter.

Answers, Professor, you need to be the candidate with answers. Commit to the candidacy, give us a platform, and provide answers to the issues facing us as a community. When you do this, Professor, you are a candidate.

November 29, 2011 at 10:25 a.m.
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