By Candice Combs Staff Writer
Among them, Dave Alverson, Andy Derryberry and Jim Hammond have more than 100 years of policing experience.
At one point in their careers, each has been chief deputy for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department. And they all said they plan to run as Republicans in the May primary election.
Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Bobby Wood said the party makes no endorsements, but it will make local resources available to all three candidates.
"What we do in cases like this is make the headquarters and facilities available to all three," Mr. Wood said. "We want to provide opportunities for all the candidates to get exposure."
Mr. Derryberry and Mr. Alverson have appointed treasurers and filed the necessary paperwork to begin raising campaign money, according to Charlotte Mullis, deputy administrator for the Hamilton County Election Commission.
No Democrats so far have expressed an interest in running for sheriff, she said.
Sheriff John Cupp last week said he has not decided whether he'll seek another term. Sheriff Cupp has held the position since 1994.
"I've had no time to stop and think about anything personal," he said.
Despite converging on the same campaign trail, each sheriff hopeful has taken a different path.
A Chattanooga native, Mr. Alverson, 67, received a GED from Central High School and later worked his way up to a master's degree in criminal justice education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, he said.
Mr. Alverson has served as a military police officer, a special agent for the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Division and as director of security for Memorial Hospital. Mr. Alverson, now retired, lives in Ooltewah.
"I believe I have the background, the training and the formal education necessary to propel the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office into a more professional organization," Mr. Alverson said.
Mr. Alverson said he has spoken with hundreds of potential constituents, all of whom have outlined three similar goals for the future Hamilton County sheriff: improving their children's safety, stopping illegal drug use and sales, and providing more policing services in neighborhoods.
Mr. Alverson worked with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office for 14 years beginning as a patrolman from 1976 until 1982. He returned in 1994 and served as chief deputy under Sheriff Cupp. He retired in June 2002.
"John Cupp has done an excellent job, but there is always room for improvement," Mr. Alverson said.
This is the first political race for Mr. Derryberry, 47, who has lived in Chattanooga for 22 years. Mr. Derryberry graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
He also graduated from the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center, he said. He began his career in law enforcement at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation as a special agent. After working for the state for four years, he took a job with the Tennessee Valley Authority's Office of Inspector General. After 16 years of service with TVA, Mr. Derryberry worked under Sheriff Cupp as chief deputy for more than a year. He resigned Jan. 5, citing "management differences" and said shortly afterward that the parting was "on friendly terms."
"I have a number of goals and plans to implement them to make the sheriff's office a more professional and efficient organization," Mr. Derryberry said. "I'll discuss those in detail once I officially declare my candidacy and the campaign cycle begins."
Mr. Hammond, 60, is working in Jordan training Iraqi police in criminal evidence, human rights and administrative justice.
In an e-mail, Mr. Hammond said he has enjoyed a 40-year career in law enforcement, working at one time in juvenile justice and for local, state and federal agencies he did not specifically name."I have dedicated my life career to the field of law enforcement and am highly motivated to see the highest ethical standards applied to this vital area of society," Mr. Hammond stated. "My intent is to endeavor to carry the quality of law enforcement for the citizens of Hamilton County to new heights."
Mr. Hammond lost in 1994 and 1998 to Sheriff Cupp. In those elections, Mr. Hammond ran as a Democrat.
"I must say that I never lost the passion I felt for the position in spite of my failed attempt to win the office in the past," he said. "I deeply believe that I have the drive, determination and forward thinking to make a difference in the operation of the office and the department."
E-mail Candice Combs at email@example.com
Qualifying deadline: Feb. 16, 2006
County primary election: May 2, 2006
County general election: Aug. 3, 2006