Hamilton County Commissioner Smith files papers to seek reelection

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Ken Smith speaks during a Hamilton County Commission meeting Jan. 18. Smith replaced former Commissioner Greg Martin in January.

Hamilton County Commissioner Ken Smith, R-Hixson, has filed paperwork to run for reelection. The election is scheduled for March 5.

Smith, as of Tuesday, will run for the commission seat unopposed as no one else has filed to run. The deadline to file is Dec. 14 at noon.

Smith was sworn in as a County Commissioner in January after former Commissioner Greg Martin stepped down to serve in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Smith also serves on the Chattanooga City Council, but he said he does not plan to rerun for his council seat if reelected to the County Commission.

"I do not plan to run for City Council in 2025 while serving on the County Commission," Smith said in a text.

According to the city charter, elections for mayor and City Council members take place every four years in March. The last municipal election was in 2021.

(READ MORE: New Chattanooga City Council meeting schedule criticized for 'no predictability')

Smith is among a few elected representatives in Hamilton County who have served simultaneously on two legislative bodies, the Chattanooga Times Free Press previously reported.

This includes Smith's fellow commissioner, Gene-o Shipley, R-Soddy-Daisy. Shipley also sits on the Soddy-Daisy Commission.

Doing so is not illegal in Tennessee as state courts haven't decided on the matter for local officials.

It is illegal in other states, such as Florida and Kentucky.

In Texas, county commission and city council positions have been ruled to be incompatible due to conflicting loyalties.

Hamilton County and the city of Chattanooga often enter into contracts with each other, creating a potential conflict for people serving on both governing bodies, who are obligated to serve the best interests of each.

Earlier in November, for example, the City Council and County Commission approved of a special tax zone for The Bend, a potential $2.3 billion development on the city's Westside.

Smith voted in favor, along with all other elected officials, of the special tax zone — once representing the city and once representing the county.

Smith did not respond to a text asking if he sees serving on both legislative bodies as a conflict of interest.

In January, when mulling whether to run for reelection on the City Council, the county commissioner and council member told the Times Free Press, "It is a lot of work to serve in both bodies."

Smith was most recently elected to the City Council in 2021.

(READ MORE: Hamilton County Commission to consider $400,000 donation to Medal of Honor exhibits)

Contact Ben Sessoms at bsessoms@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

  photo  Staff photo by Matt Hamilton/ Ken Smith listens to a presentation during a County Commission meeting at the Hamilton County Courthouse on Sept. 27.