With nearly all precincts reporting, Jim Hammond has won the Hamilton County Sheriff race, beating out Greg Beck with 60 percent of the vote, compared to Mr. Beck’s 26 percent.
State Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, headed to victory over Republican challenger Jim Vincent in the race for the House District 31 seat encompassing Rhea and Northern Hamilton counties.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting in Hamilton County, Rep. Cobb, with 909 votes, trailed Mr. Vincent, who had 1,938.
However, in Rhea County, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Rep. Cobb outpaced Mr. Vincent by 2,644 votes to 553 votes, giving Rep. Cobb a combined total of 3,553 and Mr. Vincent 2,491.
In Hamilton County School Board District 2, incumbent Chip Baker won with 55.17 percent of the vote over Joe Dumas’s 44.63 percent.
Incumbent school board member Debra Matthews beat her primary opponent for the District 4 seat, Gregg Juster, by nearly 15 percent. With 95.7 percent of the votes counted, Ms. Matthews took 55.14 percent and Mr. Juster won 40.3 percent.
With nearly 95 percent precincts reporting, Linda Mosley beat her District 7 opponent, Michael Dzik, with nearly 56.62 percent of the vote. Mr. Dzik has 39.17 percent.
After almost 96 percent of the votes counted, unopposed District 1 representative Rhonda Thurman collected 96.52 percent of the vote, with 3.48 percent going for write-in candidates.
HOW IT WENT DOWN
Hamilton County sheriff candidate Jim Hammond led opponent Greg Beck by a rate of 2 to 1 in early voting numbers and held on to take the race, county elections commission records show. School board District 2 candidates Chip Baker and Joe Dumas were neck-and-neck at one point, but as more precincts reported Mr. Baker pulled away.
Name: Jim Hammond
Education: Masters in criminal justice from University of Tennessee
Occupation: former chief deputy
Seat sought: Hamilton County Sheriff
Voting closed at 8 p.m. tonight for Hamilton County and state primary elections. All vote totals, which include federally mandated provisional ballots, are unofficial until certified by county or state officials.
Rhonda Thurman carried District 1 in the only unopposed school board race, while the two others on the “Back on Track” team, Mr. Dumas and Gregg Juster, lost to incumbent candidates.
Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, retained his seat for state House District 31, ending a heated Republican contest between the current legislator and a former legislator from the same district.
District 31 covers northern Hamilton County and Rhea County, which was significant for Rep. Cobb, who lives in Rhea County. More Rhea County voters came to the polls than in Hamilton County, casting a total of 3,197 votes in Rhea to 2,847 in Hamilton.
Election commission officials said they expected a low turnout in today’s voting. The county’s two-week early voting period brought in 8,059 votes.
In one irregularity, election officials sent a poll worker home after she told a voter to cast a ballot for Mr. Hammond, Ms. Mullis-Morgan said.
Name: Chip Baker, Hamilton County Board of Education District 2
A supporter of write-in candidate Fred Fuson witnessed the incident at the Bayside Baptist Church polling place in Harrison and complained. Mr. Fuson characterized the suggestion as “borderline criminal.”
Ms. Mullis-Morgan said the woman who was sent home was a longtime poll worker who made a mistake. A voter had said he did not know for whom to vote, and the worker told him he should vote for Mr. Hammond, the Republican candidate for sheriff, Ms. Mullis-Morgan said.
HAMILTON COUNTY SHERIFF
In the running for sheriff are GOP nominee Jim Hammond, former chief deputy; Democratic nominee and County Commissioner Greg Beck; business owner and independent Jim Winters; former sheriff’s staff sergeant and independent Tim Akins; and Hamilton County Chief Ranger Fred Fuson, a write-in candidate.
Mr. Hammond served as chief deputy under Sheriff H.Q. Evatt from 1978 to 1994. He also was a probation officer in the Hamilton County Juvenile Court and an international police trainer.
This year’s election comes just two years after voters elected former sheriff Billy Long, a Democrat, over incumbent John Cupp, a Republican. Mr. Long resigned in February and has since pleaded guilty to federal gun, drug, extortion and money laundering charges. His resignation made this year’s special election a necessity.
Name: Debra L. Matthews
Education: Master’s degree in education from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville
Occupation: former teacher
Seat sought: Hamilton County Board of Education District 4
Mr. Long’s chief deputy, Allen Branun, has been serving as the county’s interim sheriff since April.
In his 1994 and 1998 runs for sheriff, Mr. Hammond ran as a Democrat, then switched to the GOP about three years ago.
Republican sheriff candidate Jim Hammond had significantly more financial backing than his opponents heading into next week's election, beating Democrat Greg Beck 6-to-1 in fundraising and his independent and write-in opponents by even larger margins.
Hamilton County Election Commission released financial disclosure forms showing he has raised $120,675 for his campaign.
COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD
Only one of the four Hamilton County Board of Education races today is uncontested, that of school board member Rhonda Thurman in District 1.
Board member Debra Matthews in District 4 faces a challenge from retired businessman Gregg Juster, and District 2 school board member Chip Baker is up against Joe Dumas, a professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Ms. Matthews has served on the board the past 10 years and says she wants to continue representing nine downtown schools in the Alton Park, Bushtown and Avondale neighborhoods. Mr. Baker, an eight-year school board veteran, currently serves 10 schools covering his Signal Mountain community as well as Red Bank and parts of North Chattanooga and Hixson.
With the retirement of Joe Conner, who has served on the board for the past 12 years, Michael Dzik and Linda Mosley are vying for the District 7 spot. Kevin Burke appears on the ballot, but he has withdrawn from the race.
District 7 Hamilton County Board of Education candidate Linda Mosley outraised competitor Michael Dzik, though almost half of her contributions came from a $10,000 personal loan to her campaign, records show.
Name: Linda Mosley
Education: Graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a bachelor's degree in elementary education.
Occupation: senior vice president and relationship manager of private client services at First Tennessee Bank
Seat sought: Hamilton County Board of Education District 7
Ms. Mosley brought in $21,216 in total receipts - including the loan to herself on April 10 - compared to Mr. Dzik's $13,204, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday.
Mr. Dzik and Ms. Mosley are seeking the District 7 seat being given up by school board member Joe Conner, who is not running for another term.
Meanwhile, records show District 4 school board challenger Gregg Juster raised roughly the same amount of money this period as incumbent Debra Matthews. Mr. Juster posted $3,555 in this period, compared to $3,530 raised by Mr. Matthews.
In the District 2 race, incumbent Chip Baker outraised challenger Joe Dumas $20,260 to $6,909, documents show. Mr. Baker spent $16,018, compared to Mr. Dumas' $2,919, records show.
HOUSE 31st DISTRICT
Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, faced Republican challenger Jim Vincent in the state House District 31 race, after Mr. Vincent decided to run again for the seat he held from 2000 to 2004.
There is no Democratic candidate for the seat, so the winner of the Republican primary faces no opposition in the November general election.
Mr. Vincent ran a campaign that questioned Rep. Cobb’s vote last year on the funding formula for the Basic Education Program. Rep. Cobb voted against the measure, saying it would harm Rhea County. Mr. Vincent maintained the formula would not have hurt the more-rural Rhea and said Rep. Cobb was “uninformed” in his vote.
The campaign has been heated, with accusations being hurled at Rep. Cobb that he has been dishonest for putting campaign signs out with endorsements he had not yet received.
Questions arose over a 2004 fracas in a Nashville bar that Mr. Vincent was involved in while he was a legislator. He’s also been asked about attempts to help his brother-in-law regain an insurance license.
Legislators earn $16,500 a year, according to the Tennessee General Assembly. The winner of the race will take his seat Jan. 12, 2009, under General Assembly rules.