Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Chester Bankston is commissioner for District 9. The Hamilton County Commission met in regular session on February 12, 2020.

This story was updated April 22, 2021, at 4:47 p.m. with more information.

District 9 Hamilton County Commissioner Chester Bankston will retire from his seat in May, halfway through his third term.

Bankston, who was elected to the commission in 2010 and served on the county school board from 2006-2010, will leave his seat with over a year left before the next commission election in August 2022 to move to Florida.

"It's kind of bitter and sweet," Bankston said, noting that he had sold his house. "May 31 will be the last day that I'm able to serve the great people of District 9. I will be resigning that day."

The seat will be filled by an appointee of the remaining eight commissioners.

Bankston's district includes the Snow Hill, Collegedale and Harrison areas.

He serves on the Diversity and Equity, Legal and Legislative, Education, and Roads, Waste, Energy, Transportation and Zoning committees.

District 7 Commissioner Sabrena Smedley said Bankston will be a "tremendous loss" to the commission.

Commissioners will collect resumes for the position for two weeks, starting Monday.

"As best we can, a decision by the eight of us commissioners will be done after and potentially on June 2," Chairman Chip Baker said.

District 4 Commissioner Warren Mackey told the Times Free Press on Wednesday afternoon that two familiar names — Harris Ruritan Club Foundation President Dean Moorhouse and District 9 Hamilton County Board of Education member Steve Highlander — were being considered for the role before the announcement on Wednesday.

"Apparently, the commissioner who's leaving said it to some of his friends, and the word began to get out. And as it did, interested parties began to put their name out there," Mackey said. "As far as I can tell they are the only two names that came forward, and no decision has been made."

Moorhouse, who ran against Highlander for his school board seat and has worked on Bankston's campaigns since 2012, told the Times Free Press that he was planning to apply.

"I'm a retired health care executive so I've been blessed to have had time to serve my community to give back," Moorhouse said. "So, you know, I would hope my commitment and service to the community would be enough to merit consideration."

Moorhouse said his years of volunteer service around the community and his activism against a proposed wastewater treatment plant in Ooltewah qualify him for the position.

Multiple other commissioners confirmed Wednesday that Highlander and Moorhouse were being considered, though the application period won't officially open until Monday.

Highlander told the Times Free Press Thursday that he was considering the role and would leave the school board if appointed. 

"I think that could bring maybe a fresh perspective, and my education background would really be helpful on the commission since a much larger percentage of the county finances to go into education than anything else," Highlander said. "The most important thing is the financial work that we do, and I'm very really well versed in that."

Highlander said he has spoken to some commissioners about the position and has support.

"I've had some that have contacted me and I've spoken with them positively," he said. "I'm sure some are for Mr. Moorhouse and some are for me.

"But I had a school board race against Mr. Moorhouse in 2014 and I was privileged to win that."

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.