Marty Haynes bristles when his Hamilton County District 3 opponents suggest he's pro-annexation.
The Hixson native vividly remembers his first encounter with Chattanooga's growing footprint. When he was in junior high school in 1972, the city voted to annex his hometown.
His biggest fear at the time was that Hixson would lose its name and its sense of place, he told two potential voters Monday night in the Ramsgate neighborhood, which Chattanooga is trying to annex.
"We thought we weren't going to be Hixson anymore," he told Karen and Jim Chastain while seated in their living room.
Hixson did not lose its identity. And Haynes said he wants to represent equally the parts of District 3 that have lost the annexation war with Chattanooga and those still fighting it. He's running in the March 6 Republican primary to represent District 3, which includes Hixson, Middle Valley and many neighborhoods lining the northern bank of the Tennessee River, which includes the Big Ridge area, another community being eyed by Chattanooga for annexation.
A special election is being held this year to fill the commission seat vacated last year when then-commissioner Jim Coppinger was appointed county mayor. Haynes is challenging Mitch McClure, a Middle Valley pastor who was named interim commissioner last January.
Resisting annexation, recruiting new businesses to Hixson and "holding the line on new taxes while streamlining government" are three of his issues.
One of the first things he wants to do is make county government more transparent, he said. His first goal would be to make public how each commissioner spends the $100,000 in discretionary funding allocated each year.
"In writing, you have to request to see a copy of that," said Haynes.
Though Haynes has spent most of his career in sales, he has dabbled in politics. Last year he served as president of the Hamilton County Pachyderm Club, a local GOP group. Haynes also made an unsuccessful bid in 2010 to unseat Everett Fairchild, the District 3 representative on the Hamilton County Board of Education.
He learned a lot from the race, he said, which he chalked up to an ill-timed attempt to beat a popular retired educator.
This time around, Haynes has raised more than $12,000 in campaign funds. But the figure he touts more is the estimated 1,000 doors he and his supporters have knocked on.
Haynes, dressed in a white dress shirt and jeans, and several of his supporters gathered Monday night to go door-to-door in Ramsgate with campaign information.
"This has been, more than anything, a word-of-mouth campaign," Haynes said.
Standing nearby, Haynes campaign treasurer Tony Sanders said politicians call that grass roots.
Sanders said knocking on people's doors and visiting businesses along Hixson Pike is something Haynes always has done -- whether to raise money for new youth league baseball fields, Hixson High School athletic facilities or the high school's alumni scholarship fund.
"He's been doing this his whole life in the Hixson area," Sanders said.
When Haynes knocked on the door of Charlotte Randles on Monday, she assured him she had already decided to vote for him. She told him she knew his parents.
They'd been Mr. and Mrs. Hixson High School in 1951.