By Randall Higgins Cleveland Bureau
CLEVELAND, Tenn. — With less than three weeks to go before the primary election, the Republican campaign for Bradley County sheriff is heating up.
A campaign flier from incumbent Sheriff Dan Gilley’s campaign cast the contest with challenger Tim Gobble as a choice between "chaos and consistency."
The flier, mailed to voters over the weekend, portrayed Mr. Gobble’s work history as a series of resignations and questions his qualifications for some jobs.
The flier states that Mr. Gobble resigned after seven months as a city police officer, resigned after a year as a city councilman and was not hired as city manager or considered for police chief. It calls Mr. Gobble’s appointment as county Emergency Management Agency director a "paycheck while he runs for sheriff."
The flier states that Mr. Gilley has been sheriff since 1987 and can be trusted to "do the job and finish what he starts."
Mr. Gobble on Tuesday said he would not respond to the advertising.
"I’m going to stay focused on the issues and run a positive campaign about the future of law enforcement in Bradley County," Mr. Gobble said. "I am not going to respond to negative political rhetoric."
Mr. Gobble’s ads mostly focus on statements about serving the community.
He says in one advertisement that "all of us in government should continually remind ourselves of the importance of service and that it is the taxpayers we were sent to serve and not ourselves."
Mr. Gilley could not be reached Tuesday for comment. A spokesman said the sheriff was not available at the Justice Center on Tuesday, and he did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
In a March interview, Mr. Gilley said he believes the people of Bradley County know him well.
"My life has been an open book for the last 26 years, with nothing to hide and nothing to cover up," he said.
Mr. Gilley’s campaign also is running radio spots featuring Mr. Gobble’s outburst before the Bradley County Commission when the possibility was raised that his campaign might violate a federal law.
Mr. Gobble resigned as EMA director in order to continue his campaign and avoid conflict with the federal Hatch Act, which governs some campaigns where federal funding is involved.
Both candidates have been invited to take part in a candidates’ debate at Lee University Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Helen DeVos College of Education building.
Early voting begins today for the May 2 party primaries.
The winner of the GOP nomination for sheriff faces Democrat Chris Watson in the Aug. 3 general election.
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