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Staff File Photo By Matt Hamilton / Hamilton County Commissioner Sabrena Smedley watches supporters arrive before announcing her intention to run for Hamilton County mayor last December.

Sabrena Smedley went "there," as the saying goes, and to say the least the good ole boys weren't happy about it.

The former single mother, small business owner and two-term Hamilton County commissioner dared to come between two local political scions in a run for county mayor, and as a result the campaigns or supporters of each have desperately tried to try to portray her as something she's not.

The campaign of Matt Hullander has suggested Smedley is a "career politician," a laughable term considering she has spent a tiny portion of her life in elected office while Hullander's father has spent the last 24 as either county commissioner or county trustee.

Meanwhile, friends of candidate Weston Wamp and contributors to his campaign have scurrilously tried without success to tie her to various unpopular tactics taken by various schools, school boards and teacher organizations across the country.

Fortunately for Hamilton County, Smedley has made her own track record, crafted her own plans for the county and is running on her own merit. We heartily endorse her selection in Tuesday's Republican primary for county mayor.

Already a small business owner in the early 2010s, she became involved in the movement to stop forced annexation of county property by the city of Chattanooga. After a state law was passed ending forced annexation in the state, she was encouraged to run for the open District 7 county commission seat in 2014. She won, was re-elected in 2018 and twice has been elected by her commission colleagues as chair, a position she currently holds.

If elected, Smedley has suggested a comprehensive efficiency study for government processes and a facilities and infrastructure study that will serve to inform a long-range capital plan for responsible growth. In education, which commands nearly two-thirds of the county budget, she proposes partnerships that would seek to improve early childhood literacy, more vocational education and workforce development, and dedicated funding for capital investment, among other things. In public safety, among other suggestions, she favors the creation of an intergovernmental gang task force.

We think, frankly, her candidacy scares some of the good ole boys who have run county government for several decades. It shouldn't, though, because she wants the same conservative government and business policies they've advocated but has her own ideas about how to go about things.

Smedley is a wife, mother, grandmother, small business owner and county commissioner who holds a master's degree in business administration. Try as they might, the other candidates have failed to lay a glove on her reputation as a successful woman who is offering her business background and governmental experience to be the next county mayor.

Whoever wins the race will need only a plurality of votes. In 2018, the last county election, only 20,503 of the county's 192,662 registered voters cast a ballot in the May primary. If that same number goes to the polls this year, one of the three mayoral candidates could receive the Republican nod in August's general with 5,000-6,000 votes, roughly as many as a sixth of the residents in any one of the 11 commission districts.

Fortunately, as of Wednesday, more than 14,000 people already had voted early, meaning the final early voting total will likely more than double the 8,059 cast in 2018.

Nevertheless, we urge everyone to vote. It is the best way we have of influencing who runs local government, and local government has far more influence on our lives than federal or state government.

In other races, we urge a vote in the Republican primary for Coty Wamp for district attorney general. While we'd like for our DA to have more years as a prosecutor, she already has had a variety of experiences in the law, and we believe she is up for the job. Incumbent Neal Pinkston, unfortunately, has decided to make his stand on payroll shenanigans involving his wife and brother-in-law and does not deserve re-election.

In open judicial races, we urge votes for Mike Dimutru in a Hamilton County Circuit Court race and Boyd Patterson in a Hamilton County Criminal Court position.

The Hamilton County Commission could have nine new members — on the now 11-member panel — by the time they are sworn in later this year, but at least six will be new. In contested races, we suggest Republican primary votes for Randy Fairbanks (the incumbent) in District 1, Tucker McClendon in District 8 and Dean Moorhouse in District 10.

In school board races, which have taken on broader meaning this year with elections contested on a partisan basis and parents becoming more interested in what their children are being taught, we suggest Republican primary votes in contested races for Cindy Fain in District 6, James Walker in District 9 and Roddey Coe in District 10.

Whether you agree or disagree with our endorsements, though, please vote. Vote to have a say in your government. It's important.

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