Jim Coppinger announced he will seek re-election as Hamilton County mayor on Wednesday during the Friends of Hixson breakfast, a nonprofit community group that meets monthly.
"I could never imagine when I grew up on our family farm that I would have the true honor to serve as the mayor of one of Tennessee's leading counties and the absolute privilege to represent some of the finest people in our state," Coppinger said. "I am asking for the opportunity and honor to continue to serve the residents and voters of Hamilton County."
In a news release, Coppinger noted his strong advocacy for public education and workforce development and his priority of creating an environment that supports job creation and economic growth of new and existing business and industry.
The county mayor oversees a budget near $725 million and more than 1,700 employees. Coppinger said the county has added more than 14,628 jobs and more than $2.2 billion in new investment since 2011, as well as almost 22,000 new residents.
"My pledge to Hamilton Countians remains to treat each of your tax dollars with care and good stewardship, serve our community to the best of my abilities and work with our area leaders to create the best place to live, work, play and retire," he said.
He noted projections that say 10,038 new homes will be built in Hamilton County by 2022 and pointed to increases in the 2018 budget of $33.7 million in school funding, $248 million for school construction and $45 million for a new wastewater treatment plant in the north end of the county to prepare for new growth.
"The need for our county government to serve the needs of our citizens and provide value is my priority, whether the infrastructure projects support new schools, new roads or the ability to address public safety."
Coppinger and his wife, Nina, are Hixson natives. He graduated from Hixson High School, Chattanooga State Community College and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
He was a Chattanooga firefighter for 28 years and was named fire chief beginning in 1997. He was elected commissioner for District 3 — which includes Hixson, Middle Valley and Lakesite — in 2006 and served through January 2011, then was appointed mayor to replace Claude Ramsey, who retired. In August 2014, he was re-elected with 82 percent of the vote.
Coppinger is opposed in the Republican primary by Basil Marceaux. George Ryan Love is the only Democratic candidate in the race so far. The qualifying deadline is Feb. 15.
Voter registration for the May 1 primary ends April 2, and early voting will take place April 11-26.
This story was updated Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, at 11:57 p.m.