Online: Hear and see Jim Hammond and Jim Winters’ meetings with the Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial board. Comment on this story. Republican
Hamilton County sheriff nominee Jim Hammond said he would stand by two of his supporters who have legal troubles in their pasts.
“I look more at where a man is now,” Mr. Hammond said.
Mr. Hammond said former Hamilton County sheriff ’s Deputy Lonnie Hood, who pleaded guilty to selling steroids in 1998, has worked with his campaign but has not donated money.
“Mr. Hood and I have remained friends over the years,” he told the editorial board of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “I would get up and defend him today.”
He said Mr. Hood now is a family man and a businessman. Mr. Hood could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Ed Cagle of Cagle Development LLC, who was indicted in 1985 on charges of burning a skating rink in Rome, Ga., said one of his companies has contributed to Mr. Hammond’s campaign. He said he has not otherwise been involved with the campaign, but he thought Mr. Hammond would be a good sheriff.
Independent sheriff candidate Jim Winters also spoke to the Times Free Press editorial board Tuesday. He criticized Mr. Hammond for working with Mr. Hood and Mr. Cagle.
“I question some of the people who are backing him,” Mr. Winters said.
Tim Akins, an independent candidate for sheriff, said he would refuse to work with former convicts.
“It looks like you’re going back to Billy Long stuff,” he said.
The sheriff’s position came open after Mr. Long resigned as sheriff in February. Mr. Long is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to federal gun, drug, extortion and money laundering charges.
Democratic nominee Greg Beck said he would return any contributions from someone he knew was a felon.
“It doesn’t seem to bother Hammond to be mixing and mingling with people who went to jail,” he said.
Write-in candidate Fred Fuson also he would distance himself from ex-convicts, even if they were friends or family members.
Mr. Hammond said he recently topped $100,000 in campaign contributions from “several hundred donors.”
Mr. Winters said he has taken in about $2,500 in contributions. He said he has contributed about $30,000 of his own money to his campaign.
Mr. Beck, Mr. Fuson and Mr. Akins said they also have contributed to their own campaigns.
Mr. Hammond said he has contributed nothing to his own campaign.
“If you have to spend your own money, you don’t have the support to run for office,” he said.
Mr. Fuson said he and one other donor have paid for everything in the campaign. “I don’t owe anything,” he said.
E-mail Matt Wilson at email@example.com CORRECTION The headline in this story should not have indicated that Republican Jim Hammond is the Hamilton County sheriff. He is a candidate for that office.