published Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Graham challenges Brooks in District 6


by Matt Wilson

Lookout Valley business owner Joe Graham is following up last year's run for Chattanooga City Council with a bid for the Hamilton County Commission this year.

"The needs for the county are a lot different in some ways, in some ways they're the same," said Mr. Graham, who's running as a Republican for the commission's District 6.

Mr. Graham, who owns Accent Printing, will face Democratic incumbent John Allen Brooks in the August election if no other candidates enter. No others have yet picked up paperwork to run in the May primaries, according to the Hamilton County Election Commission.

Mr. Brooks, who has been on the County Commission since 2006, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. But he said in his campaign kickoff in September 2009 that the main goals in his re-election run are taking on crime, ensuring local jobs go to local workers and establishing a trade school.

Mr. Graham said crime, education and helping neighborhoods are his main issues.

"I believe I could do a better job in a different way," he said.

David Cantrell, an airline captain from Signal Mountain, has picked up papers to challenge Commissioner Richard Casavant in commission District 2. Mr. Cantrell, who's running as independent, said he was not ready to discuss his platform until he qualifies.

The two races for open commission seats have gained several new candidates.

In the race to replace Commission Chairman Curtis Adams in District 8, who is retiring from the commission, Republican Jack M. Martin and independent Jim Winters have filed papers to run.

"As a business owner, I'm just really concerned about what's going on in our government," said Mr. Winters, who ran for sheriff in 2008. "I don't think either party has the citizens' interest at heart."

Mr. Martin said he wants to fight for seniors, insisting that seniors should have gotten the property tax freeze approved by state voters in 2006.

"There's no common sense in government anymore," he said.

Hamilton County Board of Education Chairman Kenny Smith, a Democrat, and independent Terry Turner also have qualified for the District 8 commission seat.

The other open seat, in District 9, has gained three candidates, all Republicans: Gary Neil, Jonathon Denton and Richard Tornquist.

Mr. Neil said he was running out of an interest in serving the community and lowering taxes.

WHAT'S NEXT

The deadline for candidates to file qualifying papers to run in the county primary is Feb. 18 at noon.

Mr. Tornquist, former mayor of Franklin Township in Somerset, N.J., said he hopes to increase commercial and industrial growth.

Mr. Denton could not be reached for comment. He and Mr. Tornquist have not yet filed the qualifying papers they picked up, while Mr. Neil has done so.

They join Republicans John Turner and Chester Bankston in the contest.

Commissioner Bill Hullander is leaving the commission seat to run for county trustee.

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