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Courtesy photo / Stacy Swallows has entered the race for the Hamilton County Commission District 1 seat.

Business owner and educator Stacy Swallows has entered the race for the District 1 Hamilton County Commission seat.

Swallows, 56, a Republican from Sale Creek, will challenge incumbent Commissioner Randy Fairbanks, R-Soddy-Daisy, who is seeking his third term in office.

"I'm a new face, I've never been in politics before," Swallows said in a Monday phone interview. "I have fresh ideas."

(READ MORE: What Hamilton County voters need to know about confirmation notices ahead of the May primary)

If elected, Swallows said his priorities would include education, economic development and ensuring fair changes to property taxes.

Swallows said the county needs to review the capacity of schools and maintenance costs to best determine how funding should be utilized.

"We have to make sure to look at each individual school to make sure that if they're not efficiently run, they need to be tweaked a little," he said.

Given that Hamilton County purchased McDonald Farm in Sale Creek late last year, Swallows also said the county must ensure that the community has input into any development decisions on the property.

(READ MORE: The demand for new Hamilton County license plates is causing long lines. Here's how to avoid them.)

Based on the future McDonald Farm developments and bonds issued to local fire departments, Swallows also said tax increases are very likely and need to be addressed.

As a result, he added, the county needs to ensure that any increases are fair.

"I know it's coming, and I want to make sure it's very much justifiable and it's very equitable," he said.

Swallows is the owner of Diesel Performance & Repair in Sale Creek. He also teaches at Chattanooga State Community College in its diesel program and serves on the board of the Sale Creek Volunteer Fire Department.

Previously, Swallows spent 16 years as a paramedic and served as a volunteer firefighter in Sale Creek.

(READ MORE: How did Hamilton County redistricting change the political map?)

After commissioners passed a new 11-district map to replace the former nine-district map in the redistricting process required by the 2020 U.S. Census in November, District 1 shed Mowbray Mountain, Flat Top Mountain and North Woods.

It previously included portions of areas such as Sale Creek, Soddy-Daisy and the northern tip of Chattanooga.

Candidates must return qualifying petitions to the elections commission by Feb. 17, and they have until Feb. 24 to withdraw from the race. Fairbanks is the only individual to have returned qualifying petitions to the Hamilton County Election Commission.

In addition to Swallows, Gene-O Shipley, a Republican Soddy-Daisy commissioner, has taken out papers but not yet returned them.

The 2022 primary election will be May 3.

Contact Logan Hullinger at lhullinger@timesfreepress.com or 814-319-5158. Follow him on Twitter @LoganHullinger.

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