Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond wins re-election

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond answers questions from the Hamilton County Commission.
Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond answers questions from the Hamilton County Commission.

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond will get to keep his current business cards after defeating Democratic challenger Victor Miller by a comfortable margin in Thursday's election.

Hammond, the 73-year-old incumbent, waltzed to victory with two terms in the position already under his belt. He picked up 34,650 votes to Miller's 20,761 with 84 write-ins.

He pledged to navigate the sheriff's office through an expansion of the Silverdale correctional facility and put more school resource officers in Hamilton County's public schools.

On Thursday night, he thanked both the voters and his staff at the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, saying the men and women in his agency "take seriously what they do."

Looking ahead to his third term, Hammond said one of his priorities is to cut down on the number of people with mental health problems jailed downtown.

"On the front burner is certainly this mental health issue. I need to get those numbers down in the jail," he said. "Secondly, I want to continue to push on [school resource officers]. I don't want to break the bank, but we have to get these schools covered."

He also reiterated the need to build out facilities at Silverdale to replace the jail "deteriorating" downtown.

Miller, a Chattanooga Police Department Homicide Unit supervisor, hoped his experience in the department would encourage voters to throw their support behind him. He said Thursday he will continue his career in the police department where he can focus on the city's most violent offenders.

"I would just like to thank everyone for voting and working to make Hamilton County a better place," he said. "We will continue to be out in the community like we have been and be active participants and work together to make Hamilton County safe."

The sheriff of Hamilton County oversees law enforcement efforts outside Chattanooga as well as operations at the county jail and at Silverdale. The four-year position pays $129,144 annually.

Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at egienapp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731. Follow him on Twitter @emmettgienapp.

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