published Friday, September 27th, 2013

Potential Hamilton County candidates work on war chests

Candidate / office sought / party / treasurer

Jim Hammond / Sheriff / R / Henry Hoss

Tim Carroll / Sheriff / R / Sherri Anderson

Chris Harvey / Sheriff / R / David Byron Dagley

Greg Beck / Commission D5 / D / James Miller

Sabrena Turner / Commission D7 / R / Mark Smedley

Chester Bankston / Commission D9 / R / himself

Catherine Cate White / Circuit Court Judge D1 / R / Henry Hoss

Mike Evatt / Circuit Court Clerk / R / A . Ron Koplan

Larry Henry / Circuit Court Clerk / R / Gary L. Henry

Candidates for the 2014 elections can't qualify until November, but that's not stopping anyone from looking for campaign money.

Nine potential candidates seeking six positions have filed political treasury reports, according to Hamilton County Elections Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan. The reports name campaign treasurers and allow candidates to start collecting money for their races, Mullis-Morgan said.

Incumbents Sheriff Jim Hammond and Hamilton Commissioners Greg Beck -- the sole Democrat to file -- and Chester Bankston have filed their reports. Hammond may face competition in the May 2014 primaries from Tim Carroll, an investigator for the district attorney's office, and Chris Harvey, one of Hammond's internal affairs sergeants.

Current Board of Education Chairman Mike Evatt and Commissioner Larry Henry have filed reports to run for the Circuit Court Clerk post, which is being vacated by Paula Thompson at the end of August 2014.

Attorney Catherine Cate White has filed a report for the Circuit Court Judge Division 1 seat, currently held by Judge Jacqueline Bolton. Bolton said Wednesday she would not seek another term.

Realtor Sabrena Turner also has filed a report for the District 7 County Commission seat being vacated by Henry.

The treasury reports are not official announcements or qualifying documents, Mullis-Morgan said. Qualifying petitions will not be available until Nov. 22.

If candidates raise money, then decide not to run or drop out after qualifying, there are only a few things they can do with the money they raised, according to Jay Moeck, audit director for the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.

"The big ones are, you can give it to other candidates within your limits, or a political action committee, refund it to any of [your] contributors and [you] can give it to civic groups, nonprofits or groups like that," Moeck said.

The contribution limits are $1,500 for posts with only general elections and $3,000 for posts with primaries, he said.

But there are other options. Candidates can stockpile the money and use it for another election bid -- but it can't be used until the next election cycle.

"That prevents people from saying 'I'm going to run for governor' to get the larger limit, then spend it all on a city council race," Moeck said.

But transfers aren't wide open. Funds gained for a state race can be used for a later local bid, but raised local money can't be used for a state election later, he said.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com or 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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