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Greg Martin, left, is congratulated Thursday by Harris Babbu at the Hamilton County Courthouse after being selected by Hamilton County Commissioners to fill the District 3 school board seat replacing Everett Fairchild.


• For Greg Martin: Commissioners Chester Bankston, Greg Beck, Tim Boyd, Warren Mackey and Larry Henry

• For Tammy Zumbrun: Commissioners Mitch McClure, Jim Fields, Joe Graham and Fred Skillern

In a tight vote, the Hamilton County Commission selected Greg Martin on Thursday to fill the school board's vacant District 3 seat.

When voting for the seat, which represents Hixson and Middle Valley, commissioners split 5-4 between Martin and Tammy Zumbrun, who was nominated by District 3 Commissioner Mitch McClure.

"We need to realize that we've 11 good candidates," McClure said before the vote. "We've been blessed."

Martin originally expressed an intent to run in the District 3 Republican primary on March 6 to challenge McClure for his commission seat, but later dropped out of the race and instead supported McClure challenger Marty Haynes.

After the 5-4 vote that gave Martin the job, commissioners voted on a final resolution to officially appoint Martin, but McClure refused to support it.

Martin said he didn't take McClure's vote against him as a slight.

"I do not know Mr. McClure," he said. "I'm very much an independent person. I don't understand all that's gone on with the commission today. I'm not familiar with the politics of that."

Martin, a Hixson High School graduate, has a bachelor of arts in Bible from Bryan College and a master's of divinity and doctor of ministry from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the family services director for Lakewood Memory Gardens in Hamilton County Memorial Park.

Though Martin has never been elected to public office, he was an appointed school board member in Long Beach, Miss., for several years. He also served as the chairman of the Home Mission Board and oversaw an $80 million budget and 5,000 employees. The board, formerly an agency of the Southern Baptist Convention, has been folded into the North American Mission Board.

Haynes, who will be running in an August special election against Democrat Mitzi Yates for McClure's commission seat, said he knows and supports both Zumbrun and Martin.

"I could have worked with either of them," Haynes said.

Another candidate for the position, Jamie Goebel, said he received word before the forum that McClure would nominate Zumbrun on behalf of Everett Fairchild, who resigned from the District 3 seat.

"I did confront him about this, which he denied," Goebel said. "I asked Mr. McClure Wednesday night for his nomination. At that time he confirmed that he was nominating Tammy for Mr. Fairchild. We all know Mr. Fairchild wanted an educator, so I feel as though he was not telling the whole story."

Fairchild told the Times Free Press on Wednesday he had not involved himself in the appointment process or advocated any candidate.

"You can see we have a very fractured commission which showed its distaste for backroom deals today," Goebel said. "Today they voted in one person who wrote several letters on behalf of Marty Haynes and openly aided in his campaign.

"Today's vote was not a vote for District 3 but a vote against Mr. McClure," Goebel said. "Once again District 3 is left without long-term real leadership."

Yates said she's suspicious that a deal was made to get Martin appointed.

"I can prove I called it weeks ago," she said. "If we had had public interviews, then we would have known whether a deal was made."

Martin said he wasn't involved in any deals.

"The only contact that I had with any commissioner was in the interview and at the forum," Martin said. "I called many of them to follow up but never received any return calls."

Board of Education Chairman Mike Evatt said the entire field of candidates was strong.

"I was excited for anyone who could have been chosen," he said.

Martin was sworn in Thursday night.