Hamilton County mayor candidates talk pandemic mandates, education at Calvary Chapel

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Photography was not allowed at Calvary Chapel, but this photo from Feb. 21 shows candidates Matt Hullander, Sabrena Smedley and Weston Wamp at a previous appearance.

The three Republicans running for Hamilton County mayor were tasked Sunday with establishing just how conservative they are at their second public event on the same stage.

In what was pitched as a conversation rather than a debate at Calvary Chapel Chattanooga, the three candidates competing in the May 3 Republican primary touched on topics such as critical race theory, pandemic-related mandates and government "tyranny" in general, where moderators specifically mentioned how outgoing Mayor Jim Coppinger handled the pandemic.

"I'm not going to sit here and throw Jim Coppinger under the bus," said candidate Matt Hullander, of Chattanooga. "Would I have done things differently? I don't know, probably."

He added that "government has no place in making personal decisions for my family or yours."

(READ MORE: Education, schools dominate first Hamilton County mayor debate)

Hamilton County Commission chair Sabrena Smedley, of Ooltewah, said she was vocally opposed to mandates and "wore the county mayor out every single day."

"I