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Staff file photo by Olivia Ross / A voting banner is seen outside the Hamilton County Election Commission. Election Day is Thursday.

Correction: This story was updated Aug. 2 to take out party affiliations in the general sessions court judge race. Larry Ables was incorrectly described as a Democrat. The race is nonpartisan. Campaign manager Ethan White stated Ables has voted as a Republican for the last decade.

Early voting in Hamilton County was down 9% for this year's county general and state primary compared to 2018. And in 2018, early voting was down 8.85% from four years before in 2014.

Our population is up. Our voting is down. That's not a good trend — especially in a year when we have a choice for a new county mayor, a new district attorney and expanded seats on both the county commission and school board.

Election Day is Thursday. Please vote.

Here are reminders of the Times page endorsements:

Hamilton County Mayor: Democrat Matt Adams

Matt Adams, 26, is an eight-year Army veteran and independent paralegal as well as a current member of the Army Reserves. We like his boot-strap spirit and history of being a young and feisty doer. He once served as the youngest member of the parks and recreation board in Calhoun, Tenn., where he grew up on a farm. And in the Army, he often was the youngest appointed to positions in his units

Adams has said his top priority is equitable investment in all county schools. His other top concerns are crime and public transportation. Adams is an advocate for the Southside stadium project, which his Republican opponent, 35-year-old Weston Wamp, made his primary campaign issue, saying the stadium plan needs more study. We agree with Wamp that the stadium plan needs more study, but we support and trust Adams to take a more rounded — and Democratic — approach to all issues in the county mayor's office.

Hamilton County Commission: Democrats David Sharpe, Steve Caudle and Montrell Besley

Depending on how vote counts tally out Thursday, our county commission could be packed with anywhere from seven to nine newbies. We strongly endorse one incumbent, Democrat David Sharpe, 46, for District 6, and two others, Democrat Steve Caudle, 63, for District 9, and Democrat Montrell Besley, 41, of District 11.

Sharpe helped push the county to repurpose the former Mary Ann Garber Elementary School into a building trades vocational school, and was instrumental in consolidating the Hamilton County Jail into the expanded Silverdale Detention Center, now run by the Sheriff's Department.

Caudle, the senior pastor of Greater Second Missionary Baptist Church here, is passionate about improving education, affordable housing and basic county infrastructure, which he believes includes expanded broadband.

Besley is an Alton Park native, masters degree graduate from Austin Peay State University, director of community engagement for Chattanooga Preparatory School, a small business owner and community advocate.

For Hamilton County Board of Education: Democrats Jean Piroth, Karitsa Mosley Jones, Ben Connor, Katie Perkins, Jeff Crim and Jill Black

> In District 3, vote for Democrat Jean Piroth, 43, is an advocate for social and emotional learning and more school counselors. She is challenging incumbent Joe Smith, a Republican, 68.

> In District 5, vote for incumbent and Democrat Karitsa Mosley Jones, 41, over her Republican challenger Charles Paty, 68, who in debates accused Jones of being racist toward whites. She is not.

> In District 6, vote for Democrat Ben Conner, 40, and a father of four daughters who has been active in researching and volunteering in schools to improve safety and academics, over 74-year-old Republican and recent retiree transplant Jon Baker.

> In District 8, vote for Democrat Katie Perkins, 40, who would focus on real school issues (like safety in and out of the buildings) over conservative Republican and former county commissioner Larry Grohn, 75, who is accused of stealing a Democratic candidate's (not Perkins') campaign signs.

> In District 10, vote for Democrat Jeff Crim, a 48-year-old husband, father and pastor of First Ascension Lutheran Church, co-founder of the East Ridge Community Food Pantry, council vice president with the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce and another advocate for counselors and for social and emotional learning. Crim's opponents, Republican and retiree Faye Robinson, 74, and independent Christine Essex, 51, a paralegal, have no serious, workable education ideas from what we've seen.

> In District 11, vote for Democrat Jill Black, 43, and a Lookout Mountain social worker whose passion is equity and finding the balance among the things we teach and the things we ought to teach. Her Republican opponent, Virginia Anne Manson, 62, attended the Jan. 6, 2021, rally in Washington but her campaign manager says she left before it got out of hand. Independent Steve McKinney, 66, is a substitute teacher who believes parents and teachers often aren't as listened to by school officials as they should be.

Hamilton County District Attorney: John Allen Brooks

John Allen Brooks, a Democrat, attorney in private practice here for 30 years and former Hamilton County commissioner, is far and away the best choice to be the next Hamilton County District Attorney.

Brooks, 69, has handled more than 180 federal cases, one of which resulted in a published decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Aside from all that experience, Brooks has strong values, integrity and firm sense of the time management and common sense to guarantee equal justice — something too often lacking locally.

His opponent is Republican Coty Wamp, 33, recently disqualified herself for us with disdainful comments about Blacks and about prosecuting cases relating to abortion.

Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge: Larry Ables

This is a nonpartisan position. Larry Ables is facing incumbent Gerald Webb — who has stumbled not once, but twice or three times.

In August, Webb, 51, was suspended for failure twice to earn the required continuing education credits necessary for his role as a judge. And in November, Web was reprimanded for posting several "legal tips" on his social media pages — posts he said were designed to "get a laugh to make people think about life choices."

Hamilton County Clerk: Bill Knowles.

Knowles, 88 and first elected county clerk in 1974, is a Republican, but his experience and innovation (he was the first in the state to pioneer license renewals by mail and the first to offer internet tag renewals) more than qualifies him for our respect and repeat vote.

Chattanooga Council District 8: Marvene Noel

In this nonpartisan seat, Marvene Noel seeks to keep the position she was appointed to in March to serve the remainder of former council member Anthony Byrd's term after he was named to be the Chattanooga City Court Clerk. With a personal mantra of: "She will give out before she gives up," Noel is the right choice.

Tennessee House, District 26: Democrat Allison Gorman

Democrat Allison Gorman, 59, a writer, editor and native Tennessean has lived in Chattanooga for 25 years, raised three daughters here, knows our laws and policies begin in state legislatures and need to researched and written with common sense.

"I refuse to accept the lie that reasonable gun regulations can't reduce gun violence," she says as a for instance.

This seat is open because Republican Rep. Robin Smith was forced to resign after she was charged and pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge for her part in a scheme to defraud Tennesseans and the state "through kickbacks." Republican Greg Martin, 54, who served on the county commission, was temporarily appointed to fill the seat and hopes to keep it. Haven't we had enough GOP heavy-handedness?

Congress, 3rd District: Democrat Meg Gorman

Meg Gorman, 26, a Democrat and Chattanoogan, wants to rid us of 59-year-old incumbent Republican Rep. Chuck Fleischmann's lack of leadership. She's for people over profits, sound investing to build a strong economy, supporting public servants like teachers, caregivers and healthcare providers, holding the powerful accountable, fixing campaign finance, making voting easier not harder, fair pay, affordable housing, common-sense gun safety laws, women's reproductive rights and going green. Enough said.

Governor: Democrat Dr. Jason Martin of Nashville

He is an ICU physician who has repeatedly taken Tennessee's incumbent governor, Republican Bill Lee, to task for Lee's horrendous inaction and lack of leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and on other health issues, including access to care and common sense gun safety regulations.

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