published Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Littlefield, Kinsey back candidates for Hamilton County mayor

by Dan Whisenhunt
  • photo
    Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press Mike Carter talks with reporters outside the Hamilton County Commission room on Monday morning after commissioners deadlocked on making a choice between Carter and Commissioner Jim Coppinger to replace County Mayor Claude Ramsey, who will resign Jan. 11.

A former Chattanooga mayor and the city's current mayor are working behind the scenes to influence the vote on who succeeds Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey.

Former city Mayor Jon Kinsey is working for County Commissioner Jim Coppinger, while current Mayor Ron Littlefield is pushing for Mike Carter, now special assistant to Ramsey. Littlefield earlier had said he wasn't working on behalf of any candidate.

The County Commission deadlocked 4-4 Monday between Coppinger, a former fire chief for Chattanooga, and Carter, a former Hamilton County General Sessions Court judge.

Ramsey is leaving the mayor's office in January to become part of Tennessee Gov.-elect Bill Haslam's staff.

Kinsey appointed Coppinger as Chattanooga fire chief in 1997.

"I do have a lot of knowledge of Jim Coppinger's abilities," Kinsey said. "I have shared that with commissioners on different occasions."

County Commission Chairman Fred Skillern, who is one of Kinsey's business partners in the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, also supports Coppinger.

Littlefield initially tried to distance himself from his support of Carter, and Carter said he didn't believe Littlefield supported him. But on Wednesday Commissioner Joe Graham, who voted for Coppinger, said Littlefield had contacted him about the mayor's position.

Littlefield acknowledged Wednesday that he spoke to Graham about Carter. He said he has contacted several people, telling them about Carter.

"I think a lot of him," Littlefield said.

But he denied asking Graham to vote for Carter.

"I said, 'Joe, you are your own person, I'm not asking you to commit in any way,'" Littlefield said, adding that he is not "lobbying" for a candidate.

"I understood that the mayor was not going to make a statement on behalf of either person," Carter said Wednesday, "but if he has expressed confidence in my ability to lead as county mayor, then I am gratified by that expression of confidence and appreciate it."

Coppinger supported Ann Coulter when she ran against Littlefield in 2005. Littlefield denied that had anything to do with him now calling on behalf of Carter.

There's also talk in political circles that Littlefield offered Commissioner Greg Beck the City Court clerk's job in exchange for supporting Carter. Beck and Littlefield denied those reports on Wednesday.

"That's the most absurd thing that I've ever heard in my life," Beck said.

Beck works as a court officer with City Judge Sherry Paty and said he's happy with the job.

"There's been no discussion about the City Court Clerk position with Greg Beck," Littlefield said. "There's no substance to that."

Staff writer Cliff Hightower contributed to this story.

Continue reading by following this link to a related story:

Dan Whisenhunt: Amid lobbying, a compromise candidate for Hamilton County mayor considered

about Dan Whisenhunt...

Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...

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jpo3136 said...

Why are we relying on these politicians who have both such a strong reputation for bad decisions?

If who is going to be the next county mayor is getting down to these two reprehensible people cutting more bad deals: it's time for a vote.

How hard is it to elect somebody to this job?

As in, let the people do the electing.

We have an Election Commission. I suspect they're not too busy right now. I don't know what the protocol is, but I suspect that we could make an election happen at a modest cost over the next few months to get this problem solved in a way that would be more acceptable to people than some Good Ole Boy Favorites system.

How did it even occur to these politicos that their deal-cutting appointment process was in any way acceptable to the rest of us?

Time to break out the scan tron cards and reject this nonsense from these failed city mayors.

December 30, 2010 at 12:31 a.m.
fairmon said...

Littlefield lies, why is that not a surprise? Do you think it was the first time he has lied? He is like one of those funny small town mayors seen in movies.

December 30, 2010 at 6:35 a.m.
rosebud said...

The TFP's new slogan: "To publish all rumors impartially, without fear, favor, or regard for fact"

December 30, 2010 at 8:06 a.m.
Allison12 said...

Great Work TFP. Difference between rumors and fact, is that the latter is supported with indisputable evidence. I am certain this investigative reporter would never publish rumor, based upon the quality of his work. Local political followers commonly know of the Littlefield support of Mike Carter. Littlefield’s and Wamp’s support of Mike Carter is all I needed to know. Mike Carter and Littlefield would be the Worst Mayor’s Ever team.

December 30, 2010 at 9:13 a.m.
MasterChefLen said...

Mayor Littlefield is trying to become King Maker. It's not bad enough that he is he makes terrible and incompetent decisions as mayor of Chattanooga, he is now trying to extend his bad decision making to the county leadership level. Can his term end any sooner?

December 30, 2010 at 9:15 a.m.
HonorH said...

If Littlefield is involved, then we don't need Carter as County Mayor. Let Jim Coppinger do the job. He has the leadership experience as well as the experience dealing with multi-million dollar budgets. We need someone in the position who won't quit part way through the job.

December 30, 2010 at 9:53 a.m.
Allison12 said...

Mike Carter supported by WAMP and LITTLEMAN, absolutely true.

December 30, 2010 at 10:20 a.m.
rosebud said...

quote from story: "There's also talk in political circles that Littlefield offered Commissioner Greg Beck the City Court clerk's job in exchange for supporting Carter..."

I think I'll call in with a good rumor on Jammer's show today. It will probably be in the TFP tomorrow!

December 30, 2010 at 10:46 a.m.

Whatever Littlefield is FOR then I'm AGAINST.

December 30, 2010 at 11:30 a.m.
before1999 said...

Once again we see that Littlefield is sticking is nose in where it doesn't belong. How much more of him can we take. The recall should have dug deeper so that it was on the side of "too much" rather than have it thrown out for such a trivial matter.

December 30, 2010 at 12:25 p.m.
heneh said...

What good news for Jim Coppinger. It sure helped people make up their minds if they were on the fence. What could Littlefield want in return for his support? He needs someone who will go along with his plan to consolidate. There has got to be a better way to pick a mayor.

December 30, 2010 at 2:53 p.m.
applejack said...

I think it is absolutely ridicules that the commission would be considered so weak in mind and knowledge that they would have to have either the former mayor or the mayor to help them make the right decision after all of the progress that has been made under the direction and leadership of Claude Ramsey and anyone has to know that the direction and progress will continue with an assistant who has been groomed to continue the pace and direction for Hamilton County. Surely no one is so narrow minded to even consider anyone other than the assistant to the great leadership that Claude Ramsey has proven himself to be and has stated he will continue to make himself available if he can be a help in anyway to keep Hamilton County on the same path and again what better person to appoint than a part of the Ramsey team. I give the commission credit for making the right decisions for the progress of Hamilton County until they prove themselves to be influenced by other than the proven track record before them.

December 30, 2010 at 9:58 p.m.
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