For the first time in 12 years, Hamilton County residents had a choice for assessor of property, and they used the opportunity to re-elect incumbent Bill Bennett to a fifth term.
Until this year, Bennett, 76, had run unopposed since the 2000 race.
In Thursday's balloting, he took nearly 70 percent of the votes cast.
"Years ago, I didn't ever dream I'd win 10 general elections [including his years on the Hamilton County Commission]," Bennett said. "I want to thank the people of Hamilton County for being good to me. Being able to win the assessor's race so many times is a tribute to the employees of the assessor's office."
The state named Bennett Assessor of the Year in 1996, and he served as president of the Tennessee Assessors Association from 1999 to 2000. Before he became assessor, he also served 14 years on the Hamilton County Commission.
The assessor, who is paid about $109,000 a year, is responsible for locating and classifying every piece of property in the county and placing a market value on it.
With that information, the County Commission sets a tax rate that is applied to all properties. The new four-year term begins Sept. 1.
Bennett's closest opponent, Jelena Butler, 56, won about 27 percent of the vote.
She is a director in the commercial division of KW Commercial.
A third candidate, Conrad Taylor, a molecular account manager for Cepheid, won less than 5 percent of the vote.
In campaigning, Bennett touted his many years of experience in assessments and reappraisals.
All vote totals, which include federally mandated provisional ballots, are unofficial until certified by the Tennessee Department of Elections.
Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...