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some text Marc Gravitt

Days after Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, announced he was leaving his District 30 seat in favor of a local post, he introduced a Republican who will seek to fill his shoes.

East Ridge City Councilman Marc Gravitt announced Monday he would run for the state seat, with Dean standing to his right, at the Hamilton County Pachyderm Club's weekly lunch.

"First, I believe we need a strong, passionate conservative voice in Nashville to fill the shoes Rep. Dean is leaving," Gravitt said. "It's a challenge to fill his shoes, but it's a challenge I'm willing to take."

Dean stopped short of formally endorsing Gravitt, but introduced him as his "good friend."

Gravitt's announcement means his East Ridge service could be ending early. Gravitt was elected last year, and the term isn't up until December 2016.

If Gravitt wins the District 30 race next year, the East Ridge City Council could appoint a temporary replacement or hold a special election, according to Charlotte Mullis-Morgan, the county election administrator.

"East Ridge might choose to [hold a special election], but I don't think it's necessary," she said. "I think with East Ridge they could appoint someone to fill that term."

Instead of returning to Nashville in 2014, Dean announced last week he would seek to be Hamilton County's next Clerk of Criminal Court, a position now held by 20-year incumbent Gwen Tidwell, a Democrat.

Saying he wanted to increase fee collection and be "a hands-on leader" in the office, Dean said 27 years at the Chattanooga Police Department qualified him for the job.

Tidwell will seek re-election and said she would continue to run the office as efficiently as possible.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6481.

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