published Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Election administrator reports voting going ‘very smoothly’ today in Chattanooga area

John McDade marks his ballot at Concord Baptist Church as voting takes place Tuesday in Chattanooga's municipal election.
John McDade marks his ballot at Concord Baptist Church as voting takes place Tuesday in Chattanooga's municipal election.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
GOING TO THE POLLS

Polls across Chattanooga will open at 8 a.m. today and close at 7 p.m.

Poll
Who do you support for mayor?

Hamilton County Election Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan reported today that voting in Chattanooga and Collegedale was going “very smoothly.”

She said, however, indications point to “a very low turnout.”

There are 104,000 registered voters in Chattanooga and 3,700 in Collegedale. In early voting, 7,285 ballots have been submitted, including absentee by mail, Mullis-Morgan reported.

The polls opened this morning at 8 and voting will continue until 7 p.m.


THE RACES

Mayor: Andy Berke, Robert Chester Heathington Jr., Guy Satterfield

District 1: Jim Folkner, Pat Hagan, Chip Henderson and Tom McCullough

District 2: Jerry Mitchell, Priscilla Simmons and Roger Tuder

District 3: Pam Ladd, Ken Smith

District 4: Jack Benson, Larry Grohn, Ryan King, Scott McColphin and Tom Tomisek

District 5: Russell Gilbert Sr.

District 6: Carol Berz

District 7: Chris Anderson, Karl Epperson, Manny Rico and Tramble Stephens

District 8: Moses Freeman, Andraé McGary

District 9: Yusuf Hakeem, Peter Murphy

Source: Hamilton County Election Commission

Chattanooga will have a new mayor-elect for the first time in eight years by the close of election polls at 7 tonight.

Three candidates are vying for mayor -- Andy Berke, Robert Chester Heathington Jr. and Guy Satterfield.

Besides the mayoral hopefuls, 24 other City Council candidates are vying for seven contested seats. The other two council seats are uncontested.

Early voting turnout has been low, with just more than 7,000 ballots cast in February, election officials said.

Elections staff, candidates and their campaign workers should not rely on Mother Nature for any help today.

Paul Barys, chief meteorologist with WRCB-Channel 3 News, predicted rainy weather.

"We'll probably see some thunderstorms," he said. "It's going to be wet."

Two council races have five and four candidates apiece, creating the chance for a runoff election. If required, a runoff would be April 9. The new mayor and council then will be sworn in the following week, on April 19.

Over the last few elections, the number of voters has dwindled. In 2005, 26,000 ballots were cast in an election among Ron Littlefield, Ann Coulter and Dan Johnson.

The 2009 mayoral race between Littlefield and former Parks and Recreation Director Rob Healy saw 18,700 people come to the polls.

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