Turnout crucial in Collegedale city judge race

Turnout crucial in Collegedale city judge race

July 5th, 2014 by Todd South in Local Regional News

Judge Kevin Wilson

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Harry W. Miller III

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Both candidates in the Collegedale city judge race know the numbers; they're small, so the saying is true - every vote counts.

Collegedale had 9,585 residents in 2013 U.S. census estimates. Slightly more than half, or 5,560, of those people are registered voters.

But fewer than 500, less than 10 percent of registered voters in the city, voted in the May primary race.

So three-term incumbent City Judge Kevin Wilson and his challenger, Harry W. Miller III, know that meeting in neighborhoods, having a table at Fourth of July celebrations and stopping to talk with each resident they can makes a big difference.

Early voting begins July 18. The general election is Aug. 7.

Wilson has been judge since 1990, when the switch was made from an appointed to an elected position.

He said in a recent telephone interview that he tries to explain to voters how much the city has grown and the court has changed over the past 24 years.

"We have crime. I have a lot of experience dealing with it," said Wilson, 58.

Miller, 57, said in the neighborhood meet-and-greet meetings he's held so far, he's tried to share with residents that he wants to serve the community through the judgeship and find a way the court can help people stay out of court in the future.

"A lot of (voters) have never had to go to court; they don't know much about court," Miller said.

The judgeship is a part-time position.

Both men work in outside legal practices. Wilson does work mostly in civil law and some criminal work. He has sat as special judge in General Sessions Court in Chattanooga City Court and in neighboring jurisdictions.

Miller has done criminal defense work and bankruptcy work.

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter@tsouthCTFP.