published Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Runoff keeps Chattanooga candidates running


by Cliff Hightower
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Deborah Scott

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Andrae McGary

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Peter Murphy

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J.T. McDaniel

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Leamon Pierce

Candidates in the city runoff elections said Friday there is plenty of fight left until the April 14 election.

“You always have a fight on your hands,” said District 8 Councilman Leamon Pierce. “You don’t take anything for granted.”

Mr. Pierce faces Andraé McGary in the District 8 race. Councilwoman Linda Bennett faces Deborah Scott in District 1 and J.T. McDaniel faces Peter Murphy in District 9.

Candidates said Friday they have canvassed their districts, knocked on doors, given people rides to the Hamilton County Election Commission for early voting and made phone calls.

district 1

For the past several months, Ms. Scott has handed out fliers stating the city wastefully purchased golf carts and spent money on the Summit of Softball complex. In response, Ms. Bennett sent out fliers last week refuting Ms. Scott’s assertions.

Ms. Bennett said Friday she wanted to get correct information to the public.

“They deserve no less,” she said. “If I find my opponent is using incomplete information to create a point, my Web site will be the best source of information to get the ‘rest of the story.’”

Ms. Scott said she has found her opponent making a number of “accusations.”

“I have not reciprocated and don’t plan to,” she said.

district 8

In District 8, the Service Employees International Union has helped Mr. Pierce’s campaign, said Jeff Berntsen, senior organizer for the union. He said they’ve taken anywhere from 30 to 50 people to the election commission.

“We’ve probably knocked on 2,000 doors in Mr. Pierce’s district,” he said.

Mr. Pierce said he has been taking people to vote in his own car. The plan for the next few weeks is to keep going, he said.

“We’re going to continue to campaign like we have,” he said.

Mr. McGary said Friday he was unfazed by the SEIU support of Mr. Pierce.

“We’re happy to see he’s taking this seriously,” he said. “We’re happy to note that we’ve been taking it seriously from Day One.”

He said he felt like he has been in a fight for three months for the District 8 seat.

“Every punch that has been thrown, we’ve thrown a counterpunch,” he said.

District 9 candidates said Friday they have gone toe-to-toe as well. Mr. McDaniel said he’ll just continue going door-to-door.

“It’s always a fight when it comes to a race,” he said.

Mr. Murphy, his opponent, said he feels like he is the one fighting an uphill battle.

“My opponent has run for this office before and got more votes than I did when he ran,” he said. “So I consider myself the underdog.”

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