Like-minded conservatives and former friends battle for Hamilton County property assessor position

Campaign signs for the two Hamilton County assessor of property candidates - Marty Haynes and Randy Fairbanks - are seen on South Terrace on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Chattanooga, Tenn. / Staff photo by Allison Collins

The pair were friends for decades and often allies in their time on the Hamilton County Commission, but now Property Assessor Marty Haynes and Commission Chairman Randy Fairbanks are locked in a heated and deeply personal campaign for the March property assessor primary election.

Haynes, a conservative elected as property assessor in 2016, is running to maintain his spot on the merits of his time in office. His fellow conservative and former colleague, Fairbanks, is running to restore trust in the office, which he believes Haynes has tarnished.

'The friendship cooled'

The rift between the pair began while Fairbanks and Haynes served as District 1 and District 3 county commissioners, respectively. As similarly conservative, longtime friends, they had supported one another as commissioners, but the relationship soured as the commission divided over discretionary spending.