published Friday, March 9th, 2012

Judge Rob Philyaw drops out of General Sessions Court judge race

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    Rob Philyaw
    Photo by Ben Benton.
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Joe DeGaetano, Chattanooga

Valerie Epstein, Chattanooga

Yolanda Mitchell, Ooltewah

David Norton, Hixson

Ron Powers, Ooltewah*

Gary Starnes, Signal Mountain

Patricia Best Vital, Chattanooga*

* Candidates who have qualified for the race as of Thursday

Source: Hamilton County Election Commission

The field of candidates for the General Sessions Court judge election in August now is smaller by one.

Rob Philyaw, the part-time city judge in Graysville, Tenn., was one of three candidates who had qualified for the race, according to the Hamilton County Election Commission website. Eight people have picked up applications.

But in a statement to supporters and a brief phone conversation with the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Philyaw said he has decided “to forgo seeking this seat and will suspend my campaign.”

“Judge David Norton is an excellent choice, and he will serve honorably,” Philyaw wrote in his statement.

The Hamilton County Commission voted 7-1 on March 1 to appoint Norton, the Soddy-Daisy city judge, to the post left vacant by the Jan. 26 death of Judge Bob Moon.

Philyaw received the only vote not for Norton.

He said he intends to run for one of the Sessions Court seats in the next regular election in 2014.

“That’s my goal; that’s what I plan to do,” Philyaw said.

Along with the race for the seat that Norton now holds there may be two other seats open in 2014.

“Two judges are believed to be looking to retire,” Philyaw said. “I intend to seek one of those seats.”

Philyaw did not identify the judges who might retire by the next election.

There are five Sessions Court judges. Judge Clarence Shattuck was appointed to the post in 1982 and won election in 1984. The commission appointed Ronald Durby and Moon in 1997 to newly created judgeships, and both won election to the seats in 1998.

Judge David Bales was appointed to the job in 2005 and won the 2006 election along with Judge Christie Sell.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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