Esther Helton wins in District 30

Esther Helton, 56, is seeking District 30 GOP primary nomination
Esther Helton, 56, is seeking District 30 GOP primary nomination

Negative campaigning failed to be a ticket to office in the House District 30 Republican primary, while the District 28 Democratic primary winner Yusuf Hakeem won handily in a five-person race.

In District 30, Esther Helton, 56, a nurse for 36 years and an East Ridge City Council member, surmounted a forceful barrage of attacks from Jonathan Mason, 33, a client specialist at Unum. She won by 140 votes.

In a statement, Helton said that "people over politics prevailed tonight."

"I am so honored that through this diversity the voters of District 30 understand that it's more important to provide results over lies and dirty politics. I look forward to solving the problems of healthcare, education and creating jobs for Tennesseans."

Mason could not be reached for comment at press time Thursday night.

The seat opened up when incumbent Marc Gravitt decided to run for Hamilton County Register of Deeds.

Helton campaigned on strengthening Tennesseans' control over health care decisions and having decisions about care made by patients and doctors rather than insurance companies.

The race drew in one of Tennessee's top Republicans, House Majority Leader Glen Casada, who supports Helton and accused Mason in a mailer of being "Literally In The Pocket of Big Insurance Companies."

Mason has worked to elect other Republicans in Hamilton County but this was his first run for public office on his own behalf.

He called himself the "only true conservative" in the District 30 race and campaigned on reducing taxes and regulations on business.

Mason's campaign flung accusations at Helton, attempting to tie her to President Barack Obama and his Affordable Care Act because she voted in Democratic primaries. A Mason mailer said Helton's property taxes were reduced after the 2017 reappraisal and pictured her being kissed on the cheek by Property Assessor Marty Haynes.

Hayne said the .003 percent tax reduction was part of an overall revaluation of her neighborhood, and Helton's campaign said the home was owned by her ex-husband.

Helton will face Democrat Joda Thongnopnua on Nov. 6 for the chance to serve a two-year term in the Tennessee General Assembly.

District 30 includes East Hamilton County, including areas of Chattanooga, East Ridge, East Brainerd, Apison, and Collegedale.

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