published Saturday, January 8th, 2011, updated Jan. 8th, 2011 at 9:12 p.m.

Mackey says he'll change vote to Coppinger

by Dan Whisenhunt
  • photo
    Staff photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Dec 27, 2010 Hamilton County Commissioner Warren Mackey participates in a meeting where members voted for their choices to replace outgoing County Mayor Claude Ramsey on Monday morning. The vote ended in a deadlock.

Hamilton County Commissioner Warren Mackey said Friday he decided to switch his vote from Mike Carter to Jim Coppinger for county mayor after Carter alleged back-room dealings in the contest.

"I was disappointed when Mike Carter charged the Commission with back room dealing," Mackey wrote in an e-mailed statement Friday.

"The mayor's office has to rely on the commission's approval before any of his policies can be executed. He [Carter] has created a wedge that will greatly hamper a working relationship between the two branches of county government, and I don't think that is in the best interest of Hamilton County. Prospective businessmen are reluctant to locate in communities where there is strife and uncertainty."

Carter made the allegations Dec. 30, saying there was a plot for Skillern to leave the commission and have Hamilton County Board of Education member Rhonda Thurman appointed to his seat.

Carter did not respond Friday to calls or e-mails seeking comment.

Coppinger said he is excited by the news.

"I look forward to the vote on Monday, and if the vote holds, I look forward to being able to unite the commission and citizens of Hamilton County," he said.

Mackey's change of heart could mean a 5-3 vote for Coppinger rather than a 4-4 deadlock.

Coppinger already was in line to become interim mayor when Claude Ramsey steps down Tuesday. Former Chairman Fred Skillern resigned the position Wednesday, and Coppinger, the vice chairman, took the gavel. Under state law, he would be interim mayor until the 2012 election if commissioners failed to name someone to the post.

The race has been plagued with allegations of jobs being offered or given to commissioners in exchange for votes, and conversations General Sessions Judges David Bales and Bob Moon had with commissioners on the subject were reported to the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary.

Some local officials and political observers criticized commissioners for not holding public hearings, including former Hamilton County Executive Dalton Roberts. There was one public forum sponsored by the Tennessee Valley Republican Women.

Commissioner Larry Henry was thankful Friday that this chapter in the county's history may be coming to a close.

"I'm glad that we're getting past the impasse on it," Henry said. "I think it's important that we come together and unite and move forward."

Commissioner Greg Beck supported Carter and said he won't change his vote Monday.

"That's the end of the story as far as I'm concerned," Beck said. "These things happen all the time in politics. If Carter stays in it, I'm going to vote for Carter. I don't see any reason to change just because somebody else changes."

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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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inquiringmind said...

Will Mackey get Skillern's old job?

January 8, 2011 at 9:40 a.m.
Allison12 said...

After Mike Carter's false allegations and attacks on local judges, he clearly was not the correct choice for county mayor. I applaud Dr. Mackey for acknowledging that Mr. Carter's behavior was not conducive to the position of county mayor. The Littlefield endorsement of Mike Carter, was all that most people needed to know. Hamilton County does not need a leader that would agree with the worst mayor, Chattanooga has ever had.

January 8, 2011 at 11:15 a.m.
vols4life said...

This is a TRAVESTY! Does anybody really know Jim Coppinger? If you're an inquiring mind, please look into how he made his ranks in the Fire Department. The way that happened it is no surprise that he's now weaseled his way into the County Mayor's spot. If he is voted in by the commission, the true vote of the people in 2012 will show the truth.

January 8, 2011 at 11:41 a.m.
governmentcynic said...

The discussion about transparency in government is refreshing. Congratulations to the articulate and wise Dalton Roberts. So we all need to see if we have things straight. A man who couldn't get a second to be vice chairman a few months ago will be the chairman of the Commission on Tuesday. It will be interesting to see if Commissioner Mackey is the next vice chairman of the commission?

January 8, 2011 at 12:01 p.m.
charleshighway said...

Moon Crony allison12 needs to read up on local politics. As this newspaper reported yesterday Carter was not one of the two attorneys involved in the complaint against moon and bales.

Will be interesting to see what Mackey gets out of this. Word is he wants to be the next mayor of chattanooga, and this deal is the first step in that process.

It saddens me to see that our community is still run by country bumpkins like Skillern and company, thats the south folks.

January 8, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.
Allison12 said...

charleshighway You are the one that needs to read up on local politics. Mackey stated very clearly that the change in vote was due to Carter's allegations of false "backroom" deals. Never once did Mackey's statement mention the judge complaints, silly. The good old boys were behind Carter, including endorsements from Wamp and Littlefield. These endorsements sent loud and clear messages.

January 8, 2011 at 1:06 p.m.
Allison12 said...

Oh, and Carter did it fact attack the judges and accuse them of supporting the other candidate. Over until 2012, and I betcha if a popular vote election occured today, Coppinger would win.

January 8, 2011 at 1:09 p.m.
chrisbrooks said...

"These kinds of backdoor political procedures have become the norm. Our city’s political establishment has become characterized by its narrow decision-making processes, mediocre leaders, and a failure to appreciate our greatest resource: the people."

January 8, 2011 at 6:13 p.m.
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