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A mailer paid for by the Tennessee Republican Party makes false claims about Democratic incumbent David Sharpe, who is seeking re-election to the Hamilton County Commission. / Contributed photo

Local and Tennessee Republicans are showing themselves to be just as low, disgusting and deceitful as national Republicans.

Perhaps you saw it for yourself in a political mailer that was sent in recent days to mailboxes in Hamilton County's District 6, taking aim — falsely — at Commissioner David Sharpe who is seeking re-election to his seat representing Lupton City, North Shore, Red Bank, North Chattanooga, Riverview and Stuart Heights.

The mailer shows a little boy wearing a backpack and with his hand on a school house door, smiling back and waving, presumably, to the parent who just dropped him off. The picture's overline says "School shooters are lurking." On the photo's lower right is this: "And Commissioner David Sharpe would open the door for them."

Flip the mailer over and you'll read a deliberately manipulated, misleading and partial headline from a local online newspaper: "Sharpe Recommends That County Do Away With School Resource Officer Program."

The mailer gets worse, but we'll not repeat it here because every word — EVERY WORD — is a lie.

The real headline from a year ago actually said this: "Sharpe Recommends That County Do Away With SRO Program; Cover All 75 Schools With SSOs."

The first sentence of that June 9, 2021, article reads: "County Commissioner David Sharpe is recommending that some $3.2 million now being budgeted by the Sheriff's Office for School Resource Officers (SROs) be given to the County Schools, along with about $1 million more, so that all 75 county schools can be covered with School Safety Officers (SSOs)."

A similar story was also in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, headlined: "Hamilton County commissioner proposes redirecting funds to school district's security officer program."

This was no one-off mistake. This mailer was a flat lie. Malicious. Foul.

And it wasn't the only one. There is at least one other mailer and several Facebook ads, too. The general gist of all of them is more lies. Among other claims are that Sharpe supported a $40 million tax increase and had proposed to defund the sheriff's department.

It was a $34 million tax increase he supported after it was recommended by county Mayor Jim Coppinger, a Republican, for schools. And if claiming Sharpe's recommendation to redirect money for 27 SROs spread over 79 Hamilton County schools so the school system this fall can have a dedicated school security officer at every school is "defunding" the sheriff's department, then the sky isn't blue, it's orange.

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A mailer paid for by the Tennessee Republican Party makes false claims about Democratic incumbent David Sharpe, who is seeking re-election to the Hamilton County Commission. / Contributed photo

At the top of the mailers is a note that says "Paid for by the Tennessee Republican Party, Shannon Haynes, Treasurer".

Neither the party chairman Scott Golden nor Haynes could be reached for comment Tuesday. A woman in the state GOP office said she would have them return our call Tuesday afternoon. They did not.

On the Facebook ads, a note says they were paid for by the Hamilton County Republican Party PAC.

That PAC also was among the largest of campaign contributors to Sharpe's Republican opponent, Ruth Jeno, a current Red Bank city commissioner and former mayor.

Jeno posted on her Facebook campaign page: "I am deeply disappointed in the negative mailer district 6 residents are receiving against my opponent. I can assure everyone I nor anyone in my campaign had any knowledge or involvement in this or any other mailer against my opponent. ... I believe those who know me best understand this mailer does not represent who I am as a candidate, a community leader and person. My reputation is one of community service with honesty and integrity."

Wouldn't it have been nice, Ms. Jeno, if you had acknowledged the ads are lies?

For his part, Sharpe is bothered most that anyone stooped to the level of using school children and their safety as a partisan ploy against him, but he's still knocking on doors and sticking to the issues.

"If they want to make this about school safety, well, I'm the only person who has actively advocated — successfully — to put school safety officers in every school in the county. It's been a problem for 10 years or more. ... We made an issue out of it. ... And this fall, we'll have safety officers in every school in the county."

That is truth and safety. The Republicans should be ashamed. Let your votes tell them.

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