published Monday, December 30th, 2013

49 ready to run for seats in Hamilton County

A line of voters stretches around the corner of the building at the Hamilton County Election Commission during early voting in this file photo.
A line of voters stretches around the corner of the building at the Hamilton County Election Commission during early voting in this file photo.
Photo by John Rawlston.

Get involved

Residents hoping to qualify for the May 6 primary must pick up petition paperwork from the Hamilton County Election Commission, 700 River Terminal Road, Chattanooga. There is no cost to qualify, and potential candidates need at least 25 signatures of registered voters to meet the requirements. For district races, the signatures must be of voters in that district. Election Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan suggests candidates gather more than 30, in case any signatures are illegible, or not qualified. Paperwork must be completed and filed with the election commission by noon on Feb. 20.

Candidate // Party // Race

Joe Manuel // R // Chancery Judge // Part 1

Pam Fleenor // R // Chancery Judge // Part 1

Jeffrey Atherton // R // Chancery Judge // Part 2 *

Larry Henry // R // Circuit Court Clerk *

Ron Parson // R // Circuit Court Clerk

J.B. Bennett // R // Circuit Court Judge // Division 1

Catherine Cate White // R // Circuit Court Judge // Division 1

Jeff Hollingsworth // R // Circuit Court Judge // Division 2

L Marie Williams // R // Circuit Court Judge // Division 3

W. Neal Thomas III // R // Circuit Court Judge // Division 4

Sherry Paty // nonpartisan // City Court Judge // Division 1 *

Russell Bean // nonpartisan // City Court Judge // Division 2 *

Bill Knowles // R // County Clerk *

Randy Fairbanks // R // County Commission District 1 *

Fred Skillern // R // County Commission District 1

Jim Fields // R // County Commission District 2 *

Marty Haynes // R // County Commission District 3 *

Kirkland Robinson // D // County Commission District 4

Warren Mackey // D // County Commission District 4

Greg Beck // D // County Commission District 5 *

Isiah Hester // D // County Commission District 5

Joseph Graham // R // County Commission District 6 *

John Allen Brook // D // County Commission District 6

Phil Smartt // R // County Commission District 7

Perry Perkins // R // County Commission District 7 *

Sabrena Turner // R // County Commission District 7

Pat Fountain // D // County Commission District 7

John R. Taylor Sr. // D // County Commission District 7

Curtis Adams // R // County Commission District 8 *

David F. Munger Jr. // D // County Commission District 8

Tim Boyd // R // County Commission District 8

Chester Bankston // R // County Commission District 9 *

Jim Coppinger // R // County Mayor *

Bill Hullander // R // County Trustee *

Brian White // D // Criminal Court Clerk *

Vince Dean // R // Criminal Court Clerk *

Gwen Tidwell // D // Criminal Court Clerk

Barry Steelman // R // Criminal Court Judge // Division 1

Rebecca Stern // R // Criminal Court Judge // Division 2 *

Don Poole // D // Criminal Court Judge // Division 3

Neal Pinkston // R // District Attorney *

Gary Behler // R // Juvenile Court Clerk *

Rob Philyaw // R // Juvenile Court Judge

Steven Smith // R // Public Defender

Pam Hurst // R // Register of Deeds *

Ryan Epperson // R // Register of Deeds

Paul Parker // R // Register of Deeds

Jim Hammond // R // Sheriff *

Chris Harvey // R // Sheriff

* Candidates with an asterisks after their names have already qualified

With two months left to qualify to run for office, 49 potential candidates have taken the first step, and nearly half of them are locked in to the May 6, 2014, Hamilton County primary ballot.

Hamilton County Election Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan said there is still plenty of time before the Feb. 20 qualifying deadline, but she suspects most candidates are already making the rounds.

"Usually, close to the deadline, there might be one or two who qualify. But usually the people who are really serious will pick up their petitions and get them turned in early," she said.

That is the case for 22 candidates who already have had their 25 signatures verified by Mullis-Morgan's office.

"If we have them listed as qualified, that means they've brought their petitions back in and they will appear on a ballot," she said.

Based on Friday's lists, there will be eight Republican and four Democratic primaries.

Republicans Joe Manuel and Pam Fleenor are seeking the GOP nod for the Chancery Court post being left by Chancellor Frank Brown.

Current Commissioner Larry Henry, who is leaving his seat to vie for the Circuit Court clerk post being vacated by Paula Thompson, will face opposition from Ron Parson, who is also seeking the Republican nomination.

The Division 1 Circuit Court judge seat to replace Judge Jacqueline Bolton is being sought by Republicans J.B. Bennett and Catherine Cate White.

In the County Commission, two Republican incumbents face primary challengers. Veteran Commissioner Fred Skillern is being challenged by Randy Fairbanks, a certified public accountant, in District 1. And District 8 Commissioner Tim Boyd will compete for Republican votes against former Commissioner Curtis Adams.

Three Republican newcomers will seek the soon-to-be vacated District 7 commission seat. Phil Smartt, Perry Perkins and Sabrena Turner are all seeking to fill Henry's shoes.

Longtime Republican Register of Deeds Pam Hurst will also have to defend her seat against Ryan Epperson and Paul Parker. And Sheriff Jim Hammond is being challenged by one of his own employees, Sgt. Chris Harvey.

Democrats will have to decide who they want serving in Commission Districts 4, 5 and 7, and as Criminal Court clerk.

Incumbent Commissioner Warren Mackey will see a challenge from Kirkland Robinson, and current Commissioner Greg Beck will have to defend against a bid by Isiah Hester.

In District 7, Democrats Pat Fountain and John R. Taylor Sr. are seeking the right to face off against the eventual Republican nominee.

Longtime Criminal Court Clerk Gwen Tidwell will also face Democratic opposition from challenger Brian White.

Republican Party Chairman Tony Sanders said there may be a few more candidates from his party to enter the fray, but for the most part, the board is set.

"As far as I know, there are a couple of names that I still haven't seen show up. But as far as I know the field is starting to flesh itself out," Sanders said.

But Democratic Chairman Terry Lee said the 11 Democratic candidates who've picked up qualifying petitions are the first of many.

"Oh yeah, we are a little less than half of the number who are going to pick up petitions," Lee said. "We've got time, but the longer you wait, the more people are going to be out there competing to raise money."

Lee said the Democrats hope to make big gains in 2014.

"I think we will have several competitive races and I expect we will field candidates in five or six of the commission districts, and a candidate for sheriff. That would be the big one," Lee said.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6481.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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