CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Tim Gobble reintroduced himself to a hometown crowd Saturday evening - this time as a congressional candidate.
"With this particular speech tonight I want to try to introduce myself to the people in a broader sense beyond law enforcement. Law enforcement is very important and it is important for me to take that experience to Congress should I be fortunate enough to be elected. But today we are talking about other issues, other experiences," Sheriff Gobble said during one of the first local campaign events for the 2010 elections.
Sheriff Gobble told the chili supper crowd at Cleveland High School's cafeteria about his stands on a wide range of issues from federal budgets to education, national defense, immigration, right to life and civility in government.
Sheriff Gobble will speak to the Pachyderm Club in downtown Chattanooga today.
Having worked in Chattanooga with the U.S. Secret Service and being a Bradley County native, Sheriff Gobble said, "I think Chattanooga can consider me a hometown candidate."
The supper had been planned earlier to announce Sheriff Gobble's re-election campaign. But when U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp announced he is giving up the 3rd District congressional seat to seek the governor's office, Sheriff Gobble changed his plan.
A long campaign is necessary, Sheriff Gobble said, because he thinks there will be many candidates for what is now an open seat. The campaign could be very expensive, he said.
Sheriff Gobble's congressional campaign means for the first time in decades the 2010 race for Bradley County sheriff includes no incumbent.
That has sparked speculation here about who may run for sheriff next year. Three potential candidates were at the chili supper.
"I will run," said Chip Bryant. Mr. Bryant retired from county government, including a career with the sheriff's office.
"I want to spend my time as sheriff reducing the recidivism rate," Mr. Bryant said. A revolving jail door means a never-ending cycle that draws tax money away from other needs, like schools and roads, he said.
"I am pretty well committed to throwing my name in the race," sheriff's office Capt. Jim Ruth said. "There are many good things going on in the sheriff's department now, but I want to take them to a new focus. I want to bring my 36 and a half years experience to the office."
During his career many people have urged him to run, Capt. Ruth said. But he didn't believe it was the right time before, he said.
"I am considering it," sheriff's office Capt. Steve Lawson said. "I watched my dad serve as sheriff, and I ran before, too. But it's still early."
Capt. Ruth heads the sheriff's office judicial services division, and Capt. Lawson heads the criminal investigations division. His father, Lamar Lawson, was sheriff. His uncle Robert Lawson also served as sheriff. Mr. Bryant served in law enforcement under former Sheriff Dan Gilley.
They are among nearly a dozen names being mentioned here as potential sheriff's candidates.
Sheriff Gobble said Saturday there are several members of his staff he thinks are qualified to seek the sheriff's office.
As for endorsing anyone, "I will let the people decide that," he said.