Hamilton County District Attorney: John Allen Brooks
John Allen Brooks, an attorney in private practice here for 30 years and and a former Hamilton County commissioner, is far and away the best choice to be the next Hamilton County District Attorney.
Brooks, a Democrat, 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.
"I decided to run because this office needs a dose of professionalism," he told us recently. "Everybody needs to be treated fairly." He noted he had recently been called on to represent a defendant who'd been awaiting trial in Hamilton County for five years. Really. Awaiting trial five years.
In the April Hamilton County primary, we recommended 33-year-old Coty Wamp, a former public defender and currently counsel to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department, over incumbent Republican Neal Pinkston. We said we looked forward to a spirited campaign between Wamp and Brooks, who was unopposed in his primary. We've gotten it.
Wamp referred to a recent series of shootings in Chattanooga as "gang-related." Brooks countered that she was implying "any young Black victim of gun crime is involved in a gang. ... The fact is, most victims of this recent maelstrom of violence were simply out with their friends or attending a graduate student's birthday party." He accused her of using the term as a "racist dog whistle."
With the recent Supreme Court abortion ruling, Wamp saw red meat. Despite previous statements about not prosecuting cases of marijuana, which remains illegal under Tennessee law, she said she would uphold the state's abortion laws.
"I will support, uphold and enforce any legislation that is passed by the Tennessee General Assembly and signed by the governor that addresses abortion in light of the Supreme Court's decision ... ." she said.
Brooks says he will not. Doing so would be a waste of resources — much as he agrees that prosecuting marijuana cases is a waste.
Under current Tennessee law, women seeking an abortion would face no criminal penalties, but prosecuting anyone for performing an abortion would be "nearly impossible " without the women, Brooks said.
Brooks will focus instead on protecting witnesses to violent crime, relieving overcrowding at the Silverdale Detention Center by focusing on violent crime and ensuring that assistant DAs are trained better so that cases move forward and trial dates "are real."
Brooks is the right choice and fit for Hamilton County. Vote for him.
General Sessions Court Judge: Larry Ables
In March 2019, Gerald Webb Jr. became the first Black man to hold a countywide judgeship when he was appointed by the mostly conservative Hamilton County Commission.
In August, he was suspended for failure twice to earn the required continuing education credits necessary for his role as a judge. And in November, he 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."
The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct was not amused.
In recent months, a Hamilton County assistant DA in that same Sessions court, Larry Ables, launched a late campaign to oust Webb. Ables also is a former defense attorney and was a chief magistrate judge locally from 2007 to 2013.
Ables has a better idea for how to help people think about life choices.
"We should hold people accountable for their actions. Part of that accountability will include partnering with military recruiters, religious organizations, labor and trade unions and any other nonprofits that can partner with the court to create opportunities to willing individuals that lack direction in their life," Ables said.
Chattanooga Council District 8: Marvene Noel
Appointed in March by her eight colleagues on the Chattanooga City Council to serve the remainder of former member Anthony Byrd's District 8 term should be returned now to a full term by the voters in Amnicola, Avondale, Bushtown, Eastside and the courthouse portion of downtown Chattanooga.
She has opposition from Marie Mott, chair of civic engagement for the Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP and Malarie Marsh, a private investigator.
With a personal mantra of: "She will give out before she gives up," Noel is the right choice.
Hamilton County Clerk: Bill Knowles
Bill Knowles is a fixture in the Hamilton County Courthouse, being first elected county clerk in 1974. If he wins this election — and he should, even though he is a Republican — it will be his 13th term in office.
He was the first in the state to pioneer license renewals by mail and the first to offer internet tag renewals — both great time savers for all of us.
Vote again for Bill Knowles.