published Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Parties gearing up for August local elections in Hamilton County

ALSO ON THE LOCAL BALLOT

Below are additional contested county races on the upcoming Aug. 7 ballot:

LOCAL PARTISAN

Criminal Court Clerk

• Vince Dean, R

• Gwen Tidwell, D

Juvenile Court Judge

• Yolanda Echols, D

• Rob Philyaw, R

Public Defender

• Ardena Garth, D

• Steven Smith, R

LOCAL NONPARTISAN

Board of Education

District 3

• Greg Martin

• Jim Watson

District 5

• Richard Bennett

• Samuel Blakemore

• Patrick Hampton

• Karitsa Mosley

• Cynthia Stanley-Cash

• Jacqueline Thomas

• Yashika Ward

District 6

• Oscar Brock

• Joe Galloway

• C. Ballard Scearce

District 8

• Morgan Rock

• David Testerman

District 9

• Karen Farrow

• Steve Highlander

• Larry Lewis

• Dean Moorehouse

• Tim White

Sessions Court Judge, Div. 1

• Christie Mahn Sell

• Rex Sparks

STATE PRIMARY

House District 27

• Tommy Crangle, R

• Patsy Hazlewood, R

• Charlie White, R

U.S. Congress District 3

• Chuck Fleischmann, R

• Weston Wamp, R

The fanfare of primaries has passed, but local political parties and candidates are now focusing on the prize — the Aug. 7 election.

Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Tony Sanders said the party will be shedding the low profile it kept for the primaries.

"As a group, we are going into our process where we are getting together quite often as a body," he said. "You'll see a lot more concerted effort from the corporate party in campaigns."

The GOP will start hosting candidate meet-and-greets this month, and it will start helping candidates with plans to bring people to the polls in August.

In the May primary, just more than 10.9 percent of Hamilton County's 219,000 eligible voters cast ballots.

The local Democrats are working toward a laser-focused campaign, according to Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lee.

"We are looking at who to target, how many votes we need and how to best spend our time and resources," Lee said.

Along those lines, candidates are canvassing neighborhoods door-to-door and operating phone banks day and night.

Lee also said the party has been training candidates on using voter software provided by the Democratic National Committee.

The August local ballot will include five County Commission races -- potentially including one write-in contest in District 1 -- and a county mayor election.

A Republican state legislator is challenging a longtime Democrat for the Criminal Court clerk post, and the GOP also is hoping to claim the public defender's office from an incumbent Democrat.

But a Democrat is seeking to unseat a freshly appointed Republican Juvenile Court judge.

On the nonpartisan side, no fewer than 19 candidates are vying for five school board seats and an incumbent Sessions Court judge is being challenged.

Republican District 6 Commissioner Joe Graham is opposed by the man he took the spot from in 2010, Democrat John Allen Brooks. Graham is the first Republican to hold the District 6 seat since the commission was created in 1978.

After an active primary in District 7, Republican Sabrena Turner will face Democrat Ezra Maize, both new to Hamilton County politics. The winner will be the fourth to sit in the spot currently held by Larry Henry, who didn't seek re-election and is running for Circuit Court clerk with no Democratic opponent.

Incumbent Republican Tim Boyd will defend his spot against former school board chairman Kenny Smith, a Democrat. Boyd prevailed in the primary over longtime District 8 commissioner Curtis Adams and East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert. Smith was unopposed in the primary.

Commissioner Chester Bankston had no primary challenge for District 9, but Democrat Melinda Bone is hoping to unseat him. Only one other Democrat has ever held the post -- Frank Newell, who served for just more than two months in 1980 to fill a vacancy and didn't run for the seat.

There may also be a District 1 race as well. After Randy Fairbanks beat veteran Commissioner Fred Skillern in the primary, school board member and Skillern ally Rhonda Thurman has said she will run as a write-in candidate.

Election Administrator Kerry Steelman said Friday that Thurman had picked up paperwork to file as a write-in candidate, but she hasn't yet returned it. Write-in candidates have until June 18 to file, he said.

Mayor Jim Coppinger will defend his seat from independent candidate Richard Ford. Ford challenged former mayor Claude Ramsey in 2010 and garnered 21 percent of the vote. But he faced Coppinger in 2012 with one other candidate and got 3 percent of the vote.

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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