published Friday, August 8th, 2014

Randy Fairbanks wins District 1 commission seat

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    Republican Randy Fairbanks is all smiles at Mountain City Cafe in Hixson on Thursday.
    Photo by Shawn Paik.
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    Rhonda Thurman waits for results for the District 1 Commission Seat vote Thursday at Wimpies Country Restaurant in Soddy-Daisy.
    Photo by Maura Friedman.
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Randy Fairbanks' name was the only one on the ballot, but write-in competition from Rhonda Thurman posed a threat for the County Commission seat in District 1.

Fairbanks won the vote Thursday night easily, earning 3,448 votes over 1,731 write-ins for Thurman.

"As a candidate you're always nervous," Fairbanks said. "But going into today's vote I was fairly confident we would do well."

Fairbanks edged the Republican primary by 51 votes over longtime Commissioner Fred Skillern. It was the primary season's biggest upset countywide.

But Fairbanks didn't get to enjoy victory long. Shortly after the May 6 primary, Thurman, a Skillern ally, launched her write-in campaign -- despite Skillern telling her it was a bad idea and the local GOP supporting Fairbanks.

Thurman, who is the District 1 school board member was not deterred. She said she was running to make sure several projects she had been working on with Skillern would be completed -- such as a new entrance of Daisy Elementary, a football field at Sale Creek Middle-High, a running track at Soddy-Daisy High School and a fire hall in Soddy-Daisy.

But Fairbanks said he supported all those projects and would see them through. Also, Skillern had most of the money in his discretionary fund to complete them and plans to spend it before he leaves office.

Thurman told a crowd of a few dozen supporters Thursday night she thought the race would be a whole lot closer. "I'm sorry," she said.

"I've still got the school board," Thurman said.

District 1 includes Sale Creek, Soddy-Daisy and sections of the county north of Red Bank.

Republican Joe Graham defeated Democrat John Allen Brooks for the second time in District 6, with a vote of 3,191 to 1,831 respectively.

"We worked very hard and this outcome is what we worked for," Graham said.

Graham initially challenged and beat Brooks for the seat in 2010. He was the first Republican to ever represent the area, which includes Lookout Valley, St. Elmo, Lookout Mountain, Downtown Chattanooga, North Chattanooga and part of Red Bank.

Brooks ran largely on a campaign that he would push for Hamilton County to get full Basic Education Program funding from the state, and that he wanted to see commissioner discretionary funds abolished.

Graham campaigned that Brooks wasn't active in the community when he was a commissioner before, and he wouldn't be again. Graham said BEP funding is out of the commission's hands, and discretionary funds have been fixed by this year's budget. The funds now have to go to projects that are on public property and will last 15 years or more.

Republican Sabrena Turner won District 7 with 5,426 votes over Democrat Ezra Maize's 1,051 votes.

"I am very pleased with the turnout in the district. I am humbled and excited to get to work building relationships to help strengthen this community," Turner said.

The district includes East Brainerd, Westview and the southeast corner of the county.

District 8, which covers Missionary Ridge, Concord, Hamilton Place, East Ridge and parts of Brainerd, also saw a rematch.

Republican Tim Boyd won for the second time against Democrat Kenny Smith. Boyd said this year's victory proves that the citizens in District 8 have confidence in the way he looks after their money and future.

"My staff and I thought it was going to be close, even closer than it ended up. It's a tough race in District 8," Boyd said.

Boyd earned 3,088 votes to Smith's 2,552 votes.

In District 9, Republican incumbent Republican Chester Bankston was easily re-elected to his second term. He collected 5,202 votes to Democratic nominee Melinda Bone, who received 1,310 votes.

"I saw this big turnout coming and I want to thank everyone who worked for me today and everyone who came out to vote," Bankston said.

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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