published Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Two seeking District 5 Hamilton County Commission seat

KEY DATES

• April 7: Last day to register to vote

• April 16-May 1: Early voting

• April 29: Last day to request an absentee ballot

• May 6: County primary

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one in a series of stories about contested races in the May 6 Hamilton County primary election.

The District 5 Hamilton County Commission seat likely will be filled by one of two Democrats come August.

The only candidates seeking the post who qualified for the May 6 primary are incumbent Commissioner Greg Beck and Isiah Hester, an associate minister and the owner of a commercial cleaning company.

District 5 covers part of downtown and East Chattanooga north of Interstate 75 up to Harrison.

Hester, who has worked for campaigns but never been a candidate, said he is seeking public office because he wants to "be a voice for those who don't have a voice and be an advocate for them."

He wants to see more jobs and better educational opportunities come to District 5. The district needs a "fresh perspective" on the County Commission, he said. Among other things, Hester wants to facilitate road improvements, convince parents to become more involved in schools and help start a job training program for convicted felons.

"If we get them off the streets and get them jobs, the economy wins, the community wins, everybody wins," Hester said. "We have to look at [issues in the district] holistically. It's going to take the whole community."

Beck, who is running for a third term, said commissioners have to do more than demand resources and programs for their districts. They have to get at least four other commissioners to agree.

"It takes somebody with longevity and with a knowledge of where all the pieces are to be able to bring some of those resources to my district," said Beck, a court officer for City Court Judge Sherry Paty.

Beck says he has worked diligently to see that District 5 gets county resources when and where they are needed. And he said his experience is a benefit to residents.

"There's some work that needs to be completed. And I've been the voice of reason on the county commission. I've been an anchor of support for the county mayor and for the forward movement of our county," Beck said.

No Republican candidates filed for the position.

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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