published Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Deadline Thursday for fall ballot spots

Time is almost out for people still hoping to see their names on the November ballot for local municipal elections.

Thursday is the deadline for qualifying for the Nov. 6 elections, which will determine who serves on city governments across Hamilton County.

Sixteen seats are up for grabs in six local city governments: East Ridge, Red Bank, Soddy-Daisy, Signal Mountain, Walden and Lakesite. Combined, those cities account for 56,000 people in the county's population.

So far, nearly 40 people have picked up qualifying papers to run for the offices, but not all have turned in the documents -- which require 25 signatures from residents of the district they hope to represent, according to the Hamilton County Election Commission.

Some incumbents have waited till the last minute to jump in the race, including Soddy-Daisy Commissioner Shane Harmon, who picked up his papers Monday to run for re-election.

Others have picked up papers only to decide they didn't want to run after all. While East Ridge Councilman Darwin Branam picked up papers Friday, he since has decided not to turn them back in.

"Until yesterday I was going to, but the more I thought about it and talked to my family, I just decided I don't want the stress of running," Branam said. "[Opponents] won't look at experience or my abilities, but people will just be talking about me spending part of the year at a condo down in Florida and how 'I'm not a full-time East Ridge resident.' It's just not worth it to always have to put up with that kind of talk."

Chattanooga's municipal elections will be held in March 2013. Collegedale also will hold its elections then, but that will be its last March election. In coming years, Collegedale elections will sync with the rest of Hamilton County municipalities.

Lookout Mountain, Tenn., held its elections Aug. 2.

In the November races, all of the terms are for four years, except for Walden seats, which are up for re-election every two years.

Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at kharrison@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673.

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