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."
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.
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."
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."
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.
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.