Former Hamilton County Chief Deputy Jim Hammond Thursday night claimed the title of Hamilton County sheriff, the office for which he made unsuccessful runs in 1994 and 1998.
“I really feel great,” Mr. Hammond said. “We’ll move beyond some of the troubled days we’ve seen.”
Mr. Hammond, 64, a Republican, beat his closest opponent, Greg Beck, a Democrat, by more than a 2-1 margin.
Mr. Beck could not be reached for comment Thursday night. He remains a member of the Hamilton County Commission.
Independent candidate Jim Winters, a businessman, came in third. Former sheriff’s Staff Sgt. Tim Akins, also an independent, took the fourth-most votes.
Write-in votes accounted for about 2.5 percent of the vote. Hamilton County Chief Ranger Fred Fuson ran as a write-in candidate.
In school board races Thursday night, Rhonda Thurman, who ran unopposed for her District 1 seat, retained her spot on the board. But her “Back on Track” teammates Gregg Juster and Joe Dumas lost to their incumbent opponents, District 4 member Debra Matthews and District 2 member Chip Baker, respectively.
Newcomer Linda Mosley won the District 7 seat vacated by retiring member Joe Conner. She defeated Michael Dzik.
In the sheriff race, Mr. Hammond had raised almost six times more in funding than Mr. Beck. As of July 28, Mr. Hammond had raised $120,675 to Mr. Beck’s $20,385.
Mr. Winters had raised nearly $4,000, Mr. Akins raised about $3,000 and Mr. Fuson raised about $2,500.
The sheriff makes about $108,000 per year, according to county records.
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.
The Hamilton County Commission could swear Mr. Hammond into the office at the commission’s first meeting after election results are certified.
In his 1994 and 1998 runs, Mr. Hammond ran as a Democrat.
He has said he switched to the GOP about three years ago and that his political viewpoints have always leaned more toward the Republican side. Mr. Hammond said he ran as a Democrat because the sheriff under which he served, Mr. Evatt, was a Democrat.
This year’s election comes just two years after voters elected Billy Long, a Democrat, over incumbent John Cupp, a Republican.
Former Sheriff 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: Jim Hammond
Education: Masters in criminal justice from University of Tennessee
Occupation: former chief deputy
Seat sought: Hamilton County Sheriff
Mr. Long’s chief deputy, Allen Branun, has been serving as the county’s interim sheriff since April.
Mr. Hammond faced stark criticism from his opponents regarding his tenure as chief deputy and his association with former sheriff’s deputy Lonnie Hood, who pleaded guilty in 1998 to conspiracy to traffic steroids, among other charges.
Mr. Hammond has said that Mr. Hood is a friend, but insisted Mr. Hood is only a volunteer, not a part of his campaign staff.
Election officials sent a poll worker home during Thursday voting after the worker told a voter to vote for Mr. Hammond, said Charlotte Mullis-Morgan, chief deputy elections administrator.
A supporter of Mr. Fuson witnessed the incident at the Bayside Baptist Church polling site in Harrison and complained.
Mr. Fuson characterized the suggestion the voter cast a ballot for Mr. Hammond as “bordeline criminal.”
Ms. Mullis-Morgan said the woman who was sent home was a longtime poll worker who made a mistake.
All vote totals, which include federally mandated provisional ballots, are unofficial until certified by county or state officials.
Staff writer Kelli Gauthier contributed to this report.
Former Chief Deputy Jim Hammond won the Hamilton County sheriff's race Thursday with 60 percent of the vote. At his election headquarters, he vowed to meet with County Commissioner Greg Beck, his nearest competitor in the race, to build a good working relationship. The County Commission approves the sheriff's budget.