* Population: 348,673
* 18 or older: 275,450
* Registered voters: 206,020
* Bachelor's degree or higher: 28 percent
* Median household income: $46,544
* May jobless rate: 6.2 percent
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, state Department of Labor
Jim Coppinger deserves to be elected to a first full term as Hamilton County mayor, and, barring something unforeseen, he will be duly elected in the Aug. 7 county general election.
His accomplishments in a slow-growing economy are enviable of any mayor in any county -- more than 7,000 news jobs, a AAA bond rating by three rating agencies, fewer county government employees, $100 million in school construction and the opening of a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) school, to name a few.
Coppinger's only opposition for the post is independent candidate Richard D. Ford, a retired Miller Industries employee who faced the county mayor in 2012 but who has done little campaigning.
The county mayor touts a platform of economic development, job creation, improved public education and workforce development and only last week could point to having a hand in the future boost of some 2,000 jobs through the expansion of Volkswagen.
The pieces of his platform go hand in hand, Coppinger says, with better public education creating a better workforce. A better trained workforce, in turn, is able to step right in to take technology-rich jobs. And the jobs, in turn, are the steering wheel of economic development.
"If we want to grow as a county," he said, "we want a revenue stream. And we want to do it in a way that we don't become the next [sprawl that is] Atlanta."
Coppinger, who replaced former Mayor Claude Ramsey when he joined Gov. Bill Haslam's administration in 2011 and then won a two-year term to finish out Ramsey's term in 2012, and county commissioners accomplished the aforementioned without a rise in property taxes and also can point to more than $100 million in rainy day funds, an amount that has kept county bond ratings high but which will decrease with some of the money the county will give Volkswagen.
Ford, a fifth-generation county resident who has called county government "a good ol' boy" network and said "there's not enough money on Lookout Mountain to buy this boy," says he'd like to see the magnet schools concept in all schools, vows he'll hold county meetings in every district at least once every six months, wants to "get real" on recycling and says he would give two-thirds of his salary -- or three-fourths, depending to whom he's talking -- to charity.
We endorse Coppinger's re-election.
Includes much of the western portion of Hamilton County and five municipalities: Signal Mountain, Walden, Lookout Mountain, Soddy-Daisy, and Red Bank, as well as Flat Top, Falling Water,Mowbray, a portion of Chattanooga and unincorporated parts of the county.
Registered voters: About 45,000
What type of conservative do Republican primary voters want for their District 27 state representative? That is the question in the contest between former business executives Tommy Crangle and Patsy Hazlewood, both of whom are vying for the seat held by retiring state Rep. Richard Floyd.
Crangle refers to himself as a "consistent conservative" and a "lifelong conservative," while Hazlewood touts her "proven leadership," "proven results" and says she'll provide a "strong, conservative voice."
Although we have great respect for Crangle's work overseas in restoring Iraq's power grid, for his belief the states need to assume a larger role in governing in light of the "excesses of the federal government" and for his "originalist" Constitution stand, we endorse Hazlewood for her recent experience as regional director for the Tennessee Department of Economic Development and for her leadership in posts such as assistant vice president for AT&T/BellSouth, board chairman for the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, organizer and founding director of CapitalMark Bank & Trust and as a United Way of Greater Chattanooga campaign chairwoman.
Each of those positions provided her with valuable stepping-stones of experience she can bring to the give-and-take of the Tennessee General Assembly.
The winner of the Aug. 7 primary will face unopposed Democrat Eric McRoy in November.
"It matters who governs," says Hazlewood.
As the 10-county regional director for the Tennessee Department of Economic Development the last three years, she has seen the "ultimate good" in helping provide jobs but also has seen jobs unable to be filled because the applicants can't spell, can't complete sentences, can't pass a basic math test or fail drug tests.
"We have so much potential in Chattanooga and Hamilton County," she says. "I want us to get serious about addressing the gaps."
To help do so, she advocates the county get an increased share of state Basic Education Program funds, wants to see more technical training available and hopes the state will take a balanced look at health care that protects people from disenrollment but allows the state to operate in a cost-efficient way.
Both candidates have concerns about Common Core, and both support the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, Second Amendment rights and the gradual elimination of the Hall income tax.
Hazlewood and Crangle both tout their support by heavy hitters, with former Deputy Governor and County Mayor Claude Ramsey, fellow District 27 GOP candidate Charlie White (who suspended his campaign), former Signal Mountain Middle/High and Hixson High principal Tom McCullough (who considered running), and former Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce President Tom Edd Wilson supporting Hazlewood, and Floyd, former state Reps. Bobby Wood and Bill McAfee and retired Adm. Vance Fry supporting Crangle.
Chances are, both candidates would have similar voting records in the Tennessee legislature, but we believe Hazlewood's recent experience in economic development and the wide Chattanooga circle she was able to draw in her various business and volunteer posts make her the better of two good conservative candidates.