The District 8 Hamilton County Commission race this week showed signs that it will be a battleground come the May primary.
Incumbent Commissioner Tim Boyd, a Republican, is being challenged for the GOP nod by former six-time Commissioner Curtis Adams and East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert.
On the Democrats' side, former Hamilton County School Board member Kenny Smith said Monday he will seek the nomination for the District 8 seat. On Thursday, Democrat Rusty Munger Jr. said he would bow out of the race and asked residents to support Adams.
But Munger said Thursday the only reason there was a "D" next to his name was he wanted to get on the public's mind soon. Had he run as an independent, as he originally wanted, he would not be on a ballot until August.
"At the local level, I just don't see a need for political parties. At the local level, we are just here to improve the lives of our selves and the folks around us," he said.
Smith said Thursday there were no hard feelings about Munger's show of support for Adams.
"It doesn't trouble me in the least. I don't know Mr. Munger. I'm sure he's a nice guy, and whatever reason he chose to support someone else is just up to him," Smith said. "I'm running for the commission seat because I think I have a lot to offer the commission. And I'll be running for the position, not against anybody else."
Boyd said Thursday he's not surprised by Republican opposition, but he doesn't see why Lambert and Adams feel the need to run.
"I don't really understand what they think I'm not doing as a Republican commissioner. I ran as a Republican, I vote as a Republican. ... The rhetoric that candidates use -- better education, better quality of life, lower taxes -- that's good. But show me the beef," Boyd said.
Adams said he wants to return to county politics, which he left in 2010. He said Thursday his "road map" if elected would be to do what he did for his first 22 years on the commission.
"One of the things I've always specialized in, or tried to, is education," Adams said. "I plan to continue to be a strong supporter of schools."
Lambert said he wanted to focus on fiscal issues and bring his economic sense to the commission. He pointed to East Ridge's AA credit rating from Moody's rating service and the city's designation as a Border Region Retail Tourism Development District in 2012 as two feathers in his political hat.
"I feel like we've made tremendous progress in East Ridge and I'd like to see all of District 8 benefit too," Lambert said.
Gary Hayes, with the University of Tennessee's County Technical Assistance Service, said state law wouldn't prohibit Lambert from serving as both East Ridge mayor and county commissioner. East Ridge Attorney Hal North said the city's charter doesn't prohibit it, either.
But Lambert said if he's elected to the commission, he will finish his mayoral term in December but not seek re-election to the city post.
Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6481.