published Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Hamilton County Commission District 7 race will focus on education and infrastructure

A line of voters stretches around the corner of the building at the Hamilton County Election Commission during early voting in this file photo.
A line of voters stretches around the corner of the building at the Hamilton County Election Commission during early voting in this file photo.
Photo by John Rawlston.

IMPORTANT DATES

* July 8: Last day to register to vote

* July 31: Last day to request an absentee ballot

* July 18-Aug. 2: Early voting

* Aug. 7: State primary and county general election

Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories about contested races in the August county general election.

A political newcomer is seeking to continue 32 years of Republican reign in Hamilton County Commission District 7, but a Democratic pastor from Knoxville is seeking to tilt the political scales in the county's southeastern corner.

Sabrena Turner, who owns a real estate business in East Brainerd, handily won the Republican nod to fill Larry Henry's commission post. Henry instead sought a Circuit Court Clerk seat he will be filling in September with no opposition.

Ezra Maize, who is pastor of Friendship Central Community Church, moved to Hamilton County four years ago from Knoxville. He took the Democratic nod in the May primary.

Before Henry's 12-year run, Republican Harold Coker held the seat for 20 years.

On Friday, Turner said she hopes the strategy she used to win the primary carries her through victorious in the Aug. 7 election, because she's not changing the plan.

"I'm still working hard, not taking anything for granted. I'm focusing on the home stretch in August. I've had the opportunity to meet hundreds of people before the primary, and my goal is to meet hundreds more," Turner said.

Turner has been filling her time staying in touch with school principals in District 7, which includes East Brainerd, Westview and the southeastern-most portion of the county and going to community and county commission meetings.

Maize, who could not be reached for comment Friday, said in March he first came to Hamilton County to help reduce gang violence through his ministry. And he wants the commission seat to continue that effort.

Both candidates have campaigned on making sure infrastructure in District 7 keeps up with the decades of growth the area has seen -- especially along East Brainerd Road. And both believe education is the key to keeping that growth up.

Turner says her experience in real estate and business equips her to stand up for homeowners in the district -- and it arms her with knowledge.

"Whether you have kids in school or not, having a strong school system is important, because it impacts your property value," she said.

Near the top of her potential to-do list is to advocate for a new East Hamilton Middle School.

Maize said in March that he also wanted to focus on bolstering education in the district. And he hopes the campaign sticks to issues and not partisan politics.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6481.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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