Sheriff candidates Jim Hammond, Victor Miller headed for general election showdown

Candidates breeze through uncontested primaries

Sheriff Jim Hammond answers a question about school resource officers during a town hall meeting Monday at East Hamilton Middle High School.

The only two candidates in the race to be Hamilton County sheriff marched toward a general election showdown Tuesday night by breezing through their uncontested primaries.

The incumbent, Jim Hammond, 73, has served two terms as sheriff and will be squaring off against Democratic challenger Victor Miller, 34, a Chattanooga Police Department Homicide Unit supervisor. Hammond racked up 11,598 votes while Miller received 5,843, according to unofficial totals. The four-year position pays $129,144 annually.

photo Victor Miller

Hammond has enjoyed the unflagging support of local Republicans for several years and said he hoped to earn their votes again in August to fulfill several plans he's laid out for the agency.

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

"The SRO thing is extremely important to get those numbers up to protect our young people in our schools," Hammond said. "I've been working hard with the superintendent and the Department of Education to find funding for more officers."

Concerning the general election, he said he always tells voters to consider their four or five most important values and use them to appraise the candidates.

"Once you do that, then it's pretty easy to decide who you're going to vote for," he said.

Miller faces a long road ahead in challenging an entrenched incumbent, but he believes his experiences in the Chattanooga Police Department as both an officer and an investigator demonstrate to voters a commitment to the community's welfare.

"The race is going great so far. I've been out in the community going to events and forums and listening to the concerns of the community," he said. "They want someone who's going to listen to them, and safety is a big thing that people are talking about and are concerned about."

"Obviously, it's difficult to unseat an incumbent, but I believe we have a path forward to victory," Miller said.

All voting results are unofficial until certified.

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