Dennis Clark challenging Khristy Wilkinson for Democratic Party leadership

Dennis Clark, a candidate for the Tennessee House of Representatives District 28, introduces himself during a debate with Tennessee House of Representatives District 28 candidates and Hamilton County Commission District 4 candidates hosted by the NAACP Monday, July 23, 2018 at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Student Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Members of Hamilton County's Democratic Party will have two candidates from which to choose when they vote for a leader Saturday.

Thursday evening, Dennis Clark announced he is running against Khristy Wilkinson.

Wilkinson has been chairwoman since 2017, when she defeated Mark Siedlecki during the organization's biennial reorganization. It's a two-year position.

photo Khristy Wilkinson

If elected, Clark would become the first African-American to hold the position. In 2018, he ran for the state House seat left vacant by Joanne Favors, who retired, but he was defeated by former Chattanooga City Councilman Yusuf Hakeem.

In announcing his bid, Clark said: "I believe in the power of unity and diversity and it is time for local democrats to unite around our common interests and supercharge our party in every community and ZIP code throughout Hamilton County; to fight for our progressive agenda and win Democratic victories up and down the ballot."

Wilkinson welcomed the news in a statement Friday afternoon.

"I am excited that there are new people stepping up for leadership positions, and I'm looking forward to the next couple years of political organizing in Hamilton County," she said. "My goals for the party are to grow our grassroots organization so that we have active Democrats in every precinct in the county, to raise money that we can invest in the upcoming county and state legislative races, and to engage in community outreach efforts that will make our party more inclusive and influential.

To participate in the election, residents must be registered voters in Hamilton County and willing to sign a loyalty pledge to the Democratic Party and its nominees, she added.

The election is at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Chattanooga Public Library.

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