Tuesday's primaries ... Hamilton County endorsements

Tuesday's primaries ... Hamilton County endorsements

May 4th, 2014 in Opinion Times

In coming weeks and months, Hamilton County could have many new faces in local elected offices.

There will be at least one new face on its nine-member county commission, and hopefully there will be six (out of seven potential) new faces there.

Regardless of your political leanings, be a part of our democracy and vote.

Below is a recap of the endorsements made in recent weeks on the Times editorial page.

County Commission

• District 1: Randy Fairbanks is a clear choice. A certified public accountant, he can put real analysis on whether Hamilton County saves money or loses money by continuing to hoard $105 million in a reserve fund ostensibly to have a AAA bond rating. Remember, we also had a AAA bond rating three years ago with just $85 million in our rainy-day fund. That $20 million difference could go toward schools or other needs.

• District 4: Pam Ladd will bring leadership and a sense of how county and city governments can work together to strengthen services and streamline costs. She believes it's time for commissioners to be innovators. We agree.

• District 5: Isiah Hester is the choice on the Democratic ballot. Hester has energy, passion and a belief that county commissioners should serve a maximum of two terms so young men and women of vision can bring innovative ideas to the county. He believes the district - with three of the county's four worst performing schools and a jobless rate about four times that of the county as a whole - needs more than just a spokesman.

• District 7: Sabrena Turner (if you're voting in GOP primary) is the best bet for an eye on your family's best interest in property values and schools. Meanwhile, we endorse Ezra Maize if you're voting on the Democrat ballot. Maize, pastor of Friendship Central Community Church, is big on change and wants to see more of it in the county's effort for education.

• District 8: Tim Boyd, the GOP incumbent, should get his party's nomination for the District 8 seat. What Boyd may lack in tact and policy finesse, he makes up for in an ability to analyze a problem and a fearlessness about refusing to be rushed into uninformed votes. The GOP winner will face Democrat and former Hamilton County School Board member Kenny Smith in the August general election.

County Mayor

Jim Coppinger is the only viable primary candidate. Coppinger's challengers are perennial candidate Basil Marceaux Sr., whose Republican platform includes learning why the country has a "fake flag," and Independent candidate Richard D. Ford of Birchwood, whose hero is the late and famous Tennessee moonshiner, Popcorn Sutton. The GOP winner faces independent Richard Ford in August.

Sheriff

Chris Harvey, an 18-year veteran sheriff's deputy and investigator in the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department, would bring change in this office and is the best choice. If elected, the 41-year-old Harvey will unseat his 69-year-old boss, incumbent sheriff Jim Hammond. Harvey says he would reverse Hammond's trend of diverting salary money from officers to created civilian positions that previously were volunteer positions. That would put more officers on staff at the jail and more deputies on the streets. Hammond, a longtime administrator, has struggled to keep the department in the black with a $28 million budget.

Judges

• Chancery, Part 1: Pam McNutt Fleenor gets our nod for the chancellor's position that soon will be vacated by the retiring Part 1 Chancery Judge W. Frank Brown, who has served since 1998. Fleenor began practicing law in Chattanooga in 1986, and has worked in areas such as personal injury, civil rights violations, employment defense, breach of contract and complex commercial litigation.

• Circuit Court Judge, Division 1: Catherine Cate White is the best choice for this post soon to be vacated by Judge Jacqueline Bolton. White has been practicing law for 25 years and has worked in areas including special counsel for Chattanooga, worker's compensation, General Sessions Court, contract disputes, condemnations and family law.

Clerks

• Circuit Court Clerk: Larry Henry will make the best new Circuit Court Clerk and has pledged to get a handle on an office where expenses have outpaced revenues.

• Criminal Court Clerk: Gwen Tidwell is the easy and best choice for Democratic re-nomination to her post of 20 years as Hamilton County Criminal Court Clerk. The winner will face Republican Vince Dean in August.

Register of Deeds

• Pam Hurst, a five-term GOP incumbent for the Hamilton County Register of Deeds, is the clear choice. Hurst, in the last 20 years led the state in electronically recording land record documents. She continues now to make even old deeds and documents accessible electronically.