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Three Republican candidates are seeking to fill the vacant seat left after the resignation of Tennessee state Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson.

Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Martin, of Hixson, Shannon Stephenson, of Harrison, and David Swinford, of Rivermont, were the three candidates to express interest in the seat by Friday's deadline. A candidate will be appointed by the Hamilton County Commission on March 30.

"The people of District 3 have trusted me three times with their votes to serve them in office," Martin said in a Monday phone interview. "And I think that speaks volumes of the trust that people have placed in me."

(READ MORE: Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Martin to run for House seat left vacant by Robin Smith)

Martin added that even if he's not appointed to the seat, which would last until the Nov. 8 general election results are certified, he will still run.

The county commissioner said he will be on the ballot for the Aug. 4 primary election as well to serve a full House term.

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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / District 3 Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Martin looks on during a County Commission meeting in the County Commission assembly room at the Hamilton County Courthouse on Wednesday, April 17, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Martin is one of three Republicans looking to fill the seat vacated by former Tennessee state Rep. Robin Smith.

(READ MORE: Replacement for former Tennessee Rep. Robin Smith to be appointed by end of month)

Stephenson, CEO of Cempa Community Care, in a Monday phone interview said her experience helping with legislation at the state level to eliminate health disparities in the region makes her the most qualified candidate.

"I've been involved a lot locally, especially during COVID, and I want to do as much as possible," she said. "It's about having the knowledge and being in a place to execute what needs to be done."

(READ MORE: Former Tennessee Rep. Robin Smith pleads guilty to fraud)

Stephenson said she does not currently plan to run for the seat but rather will fill in as an interim state representative, noting that leaving a commissioner seat vacant would leave citizens' voices unheard.

Swinford, who owns a cattle farm and also along with his wife helps sell lesson plans and teaching materials mostly directly to classroom teachers, said he has picked up paperwork to run for the seat but he is only "90% committed" to take it over.

"I understand that I personally have the ability to read through and process information," Swinford said in a Monday phone interview. "You can't just be against things for office, you have to be for things."

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Republican David Swinford is looking to take over the vacant seat of former Tennessee state Rep. Robin Smith.

Smith resigned earlier this month amid charges from a federal wire fraud investigation of a political consulting firm tied to former state House Speaker Glen Casada, who remains a House member, and Casada's former chief of staff, Cade Cothren.

(READ MORE: Hamilton County Commission will be responsible for replacing former state Rep. Robin Smith)

Smith pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a single charge of honest services wire fraud in what federal prosecutors described as a kickback scheme involving the use of taxpayer-funded constituent mail.

Her sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 17, leaving time for her to cooperate in the ongoing federal investigation. Smith could face up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

Contact Logan Hullinger at lhullinger@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416. Follow him on Twitter @LoganHullinger.

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Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Shannon Stephenson accepts the nonprofit small business award for Cempa during the Chattanooga Area Chamber awards program at Stratton Hall on Wednesday, March 16, 2022. Stephenson is one of three Republicans looking to fill the seat vacated by former Tennessee state Rep. Robin Smith.
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