Nearly 40 plan to seek office in Hamilton County

Nearly 40 plan to seek office in Hamilton County

December 9th, 2013 by Louie Brogdon in Local Regional News

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 /Times Free Press.

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Residents hoping to qualify for the May 6 primary must pick up petition paperwork from the Hamilton County Election Commission, 700 River Terminal Road, Chattanooga. There is no cost to qualify, and potential candidates need at least 25 signatures of registered voters to meet the requirements. For district races, the signatures must be of voters in that district. Election Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan suggests candidates gather more than 30, in case any signatures are illegible, or not qualified. Paperwork must be completed and filed with the election commission by 12 p.m. Feb. 20.

Two weeks into the qualifying period for Hamilton County's 2014 elections, nearly 40 people have picked up petitions to seek office, and seven already are locked in to run.

Thirty-one partisan races are up for grabs for the May 6, 2014, primaries; 30 Republicans and seven Democrats have answered the call.

Hamilton County District 2 Commissioner Jim Fields, County Clerk Bill Knowles, Register of Deeds Pam Hurst and Sheriff Jim Hammond, all Republicans, have qualified to run in their respective primaries. And political newcomer Neal Pinkston is seeking the Republican nomination to succeed his boss, District Attorney Bill Cox, who is not seeking re-election.

County Republican Party Chairman Tony Sanders said he expects a few more incumbents to pick up petitions, and a few more candidates who will start collecting signatures next year before the Feb. 20 qualifying deadline. But there are others even he isn't sure about.

"There are some others that I've heard rumors from, but I haven't seen anything official," Sanders said.

Meanwhile, Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lee says many more Democrats are planning to qualify.

"We anticipate having at least the upper 20s; now, some of those might be [nonpartisan] school board members, but we do anticipate more people [in partisan races]," Lee said.


Already, a few primary battles have emerged.

Candidate // Party // Office

Joe Manuel // R // Chancery Judge // Part 1

Pam Fleenor // R // Chancery Judge // Part 1

Jeffrey Atherton // R // Chancery Judge // Part 2

Larry Henry // R // Circuit Court Clerk

J.B. Bennett // R // Circuit Court Judge // Division 1

Catherine Cate White // R // Circuit Court Judge // Division 1

Jeff Hollingsworth // R // Circuit Court Judge // Division 2

L Marie Williams // R // Circuit Court Judge // Division 3

W. Neal Thomas III // R // Circuit Court Judge // Division 4

Sherry Paty // nonpartisan // City Court Judge // Division 1

Russell Bean // nonpartisan // City Court Judge // Division 2

Bill Knowles // R // County Clerk

Randy Fairbanks // R // County Commission District 1

Jim Fields // R // County Commission District 2

Marty Haynes // R // County Commission District 3

Kirkland Robinson // D // County Commission District 4

Warren Mackey // D // County Commission District 4

Greg Beck // D // County Commission District 5

Isiah Hester // D // County Commission District 5

Joseph Graham // R // County Commission District 6

Phil Smartt // R // County Commission District 7

Perry Perkins // R // County Commission District 7

Sabrena Turner // R // County Commission District 7

Curtis Adams // R // County Commission District 8

David F. Munger Jr. // D // County Commission District 8

Chester Bankston // R // County Commission District 9

Jim Coppinger // R // County Mayor

Brian White // D // Criminal Court Clerk

Vince Dean // R // Criminal Court Clerk

Barry Steelman // R // Criminal Court Judge // Div 1

Rebecca Stern // R // Criminal Court Judge // Div 2

Don Poole // D // Criminal Court Judge // Div 3

Neal Pinkston // R // District Attorney

Gary Behler // R // Juvenile Court Clerk

Rob Philyaw // R // Juvenile Court Judge

Steven Smith // R // Public Defender

Pam Hurst // R // Register of Deeds

Jim Hammond // R // Sheriff

Chris Harvey // R // Sheriff

On the Republican side, Joe Manuel and Pam Fleenor are both seeking the Chancery Court judge seat being vacated by Chancellor Frank Brown. And J.B. Bennett and Catherine Cate White will vie for the Division 1 Circuit Court judge seat to replace Judge Jacqueline Bolton.

It's looking like there will be at least a three-way primary race for the District 7 seat on the Hamilton County Commission. Phil Smartt, Perry Perkins and Sabrena Turner will be facing off for the seat being left by Larry Henry. Henry is seeking the Republican nomination for Circuit Court Clerk.

A primary bout may happen in District 8 as well. Longtime seatholder Curtis Adams has started collecting signatures to seek the Republican nomination. That seat is currently held by Republican Commissioner Tim Boyd. Boyd said Friday he plans to seek re-election but has not yet picked up qualifying papers.

Hammond will also face a primary challenger from his own ranks. Deputy Sgt. Chris Harvey has picked up a petition to seek the GOP nomination.

The only Democratic primary contests so far on the County Commission.

Commissioner Greg Beck may be challenged in District 5 by Isiah Hester, and Commissioner Warren Mackey may face Kirkland Robinson in District 4.


Both party heads say they are urging candidates to keep the primaries clean and civil.

"We continually remind all of the Republican candidates to keep an eye on the bigger picture. Debate the facts, debate the issues, but don't turn this into personal attacks that we see on the national level," Sanders said.

Lee agreed.

"We're about winning elections. You need to play chess and not checkers. Beating your opponent in a primary is good but losing a general election because of what happened in the primary is not," he said.

The May 6 ballot will not be all partisan.

Sherry Paty and Russell Bean are also running to keep their Chattanooga City Court judge seats, nonpartisan seats that will be elected amid the county's primaries.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at or at 423-757-6481.