Both of the candidates vying for the open seat on the Hamilton County Commission described themselves tonight as conservatives and Republicans who are wary about raising county taxes and want to know more before they will support spending county funds on a new jail.
But in their only debate in the Hamilton County District 3 race, Republican nominee Greg Martin also played up his local support and focus while suggesting his opponent, independent candidate Joe Smith, gets most of his support from outside of district 3.
"My support has come from the people of Hixson," Martin said in a debate jointly sponsored by the McConell Elementary and the Loftis Middle School. "According to the latest financial records, 82 percent of the people who are financially backing him do not live in this community. His campaign manager is from Soddy Daisy; his treasurer is from Signal Mountain and his communications director is from East Ridge. My campaign manager and treasurer live in Hixson and I'm proud to have over 72 percent of the people who are supporting my campaign be the voters who live in this community."facebook
Martin, a 53-year-old Hamilton County school board member and real estate agent for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, said while on the school board he worked with county officials to get the first capital projects in District 3 schools in five years.
"I think I know what it takes to get things done for this community and I think I've shown that," Martin said.
But Smith, the 63-year-old director of mission advancement for the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga, urged Martin to stay on the school board rather than move to the County Commission.
"It shouldn't be about furthering personal careers or climbing the political tree," Smith said. "I don't have any aspirations about climbing the political ladder. My opponent should stay on the school board and quit worrying about climbing the political ladder."
Smith said he hopes to work together with the county school board to improve Hamilton County schools.
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that we're just not getting the return on our investment," Smith said. "I don't know why that is but its got to be looked at and deal with before we even think about giving more money to the schools."
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 423-757-6340.