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District 1 Hamilton County Commissioner Randy Fairbanks is seen during a County Commission meeting in the County Commission assembly room at the Hamilton County Courthouse on Wednesday, April 17, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

This story was updated at 6:12 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2019, with more information.

District 1 Commissioner Randy Fairbanks announced Wednesday that he is entering the 2020 race to be Hamilton County's assessor of property, potentially vacating his commission seat.

In a news release Wednesday afternoon, the recently named chairman of the Hamilton County Commission said he would run in the Republican primary for assessor in March.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of District 1, as well as all the citizens of Hamilton County for the past five years. I am fiscally and socially conservative and I have treated the taxpayers' money as if it were my own," Fairbanks, who has been on the Hamilton County Commission since 2014, wrote.

If elected assessor, which is a four-year term, in the August 2020 general election, Fairbanks would vacate his seat on the commission with more than two years left in his second term.

The assessor's duties include locating, classifying and valuing all properties in the county. The county commission actually sets the property tax rate.

"The Assessor of Property is one of the most important jobs in Hamilton County. A true and honest appraisal of every citizen's property assures that everyone pays their fair share," Fairbanks wrote. "I would like to bring the same honest and conservative values that have guided my service on the County Commission to the Assessor's Office. Over the next few months I will be sharing the reasons I am seeking this important office. I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received so far and I humbly ask for the people's vote for Assessor of Property of Hamilton County."

If Fairbanks' seat is left open the remaining commissioners would appoint his replacement, who would serve until the next regular county election, according to the election commission.

Sitting assessor Marty Haynes, who decidedly beat his Democratic opponent in 2016, is seeking re-election, citing "overwhelming support and encouragement about seeking re-election."

"When running for this office, I made a promise to bring a conservative business approach to county government and modernize the Assessor's Office so it's more efficient, accountable and responsive to the evolving needs of all property owners and taxpayers," Haynes wrote in a release. "During the past three years, I have work hard every day to fulfill this promise. In doing so, we have made tremendous progress in modernizing and improving the Assessor's Office to ensure every property assessment is fair, transparent and reflects the fair market value of the property according to recent sales in the area."

Haynes represented District 3 on the county commission before vacating his seat to assume his role as assessor, making more than $120,000 in 2016.

District 7 Commissioner Sabrena Smedley, who self identifies as a "close friend" of Fairbanks, said she knew he was considering the race but the commission has not yet begun to address a potential replacement for the chairman should his seat be vacated.

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at staylor@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @sarahgtaylor.

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