Three Hamilton County officeholders picked up qualifying petitions Friday to run for their current seats in the March 2012 primary.
District 3 Commissioner Mitch McClure, County Mayor Jim Coppinger and Assessor of Property Bill Bennett took steps to begin their campaigns for the March 6 Republican primary.
To qualify, a potential candidate must collect at least 25 qualifying signatures and return them to the election commission by Dec. 8 at noon, said Charlotte Mullis-Morgan, administrator of elections.
The property assessor's election is the only one regularly scheduled for 2012. "He doesn't run in the same sync as the other [county officials]," Mullis-Morgan said.
Special elections will be held for county mayor and a commission seat.
After Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam named then-County Mayor Claude Ramsey as deputy governor in January, county commissioners appointed District 3 incumbent Jim Coppinger to the mayor's seat. Then they tapped McClure to fill Coppinger's commission seat.
Bennett, who has served as property assessor since 1994, was recently appointed by Haslam to the Tennessee Board of Equalization. Bennett lives in Ooltewah with his wife of 54 years and has three children and one grandchild. Prior to his time in the assessor's office he spent more than two decades at Combustion Engineering and co-owned an insurance business. He also served several terms as a District 9 county commissioner.
"I know a lot people who think that anybody that's got a government job kind of has a gravy train," Bennett said. "But this is a tough job, it's a sensitive job. We've got so many state mandates that we've got to abide by."
Coppinger, who was first elected to county office in 2006, said he plans to focus on jobs and education. He worked at the Chattanooga Fire Department for 28 years, serving the last eight as chief.
Coppinger said he plans to continue "to run efficient government and ... do it cost effectively."
McClure, pastor at Middle Valley Church of God, said he plans to "keep this community going in the right direction." He wants to work to get fire hydrants placed in unincorporated areas of his district and improve technology in schools.
Mullis-Morgan said that, to date, she has had no other potential candidates pick up petitions.
The county general election is Aug. 2, 2012.
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 ...