Opinion: Messy politics? More like Hamilton County mayoral candidates in a tight race


The May 3 Democratic-Republican primary is clearly approaching, and the races that were already hot now are crackling with attempted one-ups, accusations and he-said-she-said retorts.

Last week’s news and many mailboxes (digital, as well as those planted by the roadsides) contained stories, ads and direct mail that — pick them all — described the three GOP mayoral candidates as a bad day.

Matt Hullander, the former owner of Hullco who touts his business experience, said in an email he had been ‘prosecuted multiple times for paying illegal wages’, ‘admitted to violating the Fair Labor Standards Act ” and having sold his “business during legal proceedings”.

Radio listeners heard an ad accusing Hamilton County Commissioner Sabrena Smedley of huddling “with liberal teachers’ unions.” She would “turn our children over to woke liberal activists,” according to the ad and another letter. (Never mind that the idea of ​​a Tennessee teachers’ union as “liberal” is laughable at best.)

Smedley and Hullander pointed fingers at Weston Wamp, who denied knowing about the adverts and said he had nothing to do with them. Yet some of his supporters paid them off, so other candidates were quick to point fingers and cry foul.

Chattanoogans for Responsible Government – ​​with a treasurer named Adam Boeselager (founder of Legacy Box, according to his Twitter page) and an officer named Jacob T. Hucherson (founder, CEO of Clutch Recruitment & Nightingale Talent, according to his LinkedIn page) – was behind the ads. Both Boeselager and Hucherson have backed Wamp’s mayoral campaign.

The organization sent NewsChannel 9 this statement: “Some of us feel that other voices should be heard. Here in Hamilton County, we are far too apathetic about our political candidates. In a race which is sorely lacking in depth, we wanted to bring transparency on important topics. If a candidate for mayor can’t stand public scrutiny, he probably wouldn’t make a very good mayor.

We would agree. The lawsuits against Hullander’s former company are public. Smedley’s last eight years as a perpetually cheerful politician have also been made public.

And don’t think this so-called “negative” campaign hasn’t been fully exposed from the start. In one of Smedley’s first adverts, she took on both Hullander and Wamp, singing, “I’m the only mayoral candidate with a good background on the job. That’s what this county needs – not political sons trying to expand the family business.”

Hullander, too, was quick to throw elbows at Wamp and Smedley — all on full display in every debate and public appearance by the candidates we’ve seen. And early on, Hullander hired what Wamp called in a statement, “the nastiest campaign operator in Tennessee who started paying for mass phone calls falsely accusing me of supporting ‘left-wing’ politics. “and” illegal immigration “.

Don’t get distracted by any of the moans. Instead, watch what the candidates themselves say when asked about the substantive issues facing our county — like how we’re going to pay for better education, whether we should be spending taxpayer dollars on sports stadiums. instead of our children and how we will manage the infrastructure expansion needs. You can see previous debates online at the Times Free Press/Local 3 News, NewsChannel 9 and WTCI.

You can also read our GOP primary endorsement for mayor and our thoughts on cross-voting.

And if you’re still undecided, there’s another debate Thursday night at 6 p.m. hosted by the Chattanooga Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and the Hamilton County Voters Coalition. You can watch it live at facebook.com/NCBWChattanooga/

Wamp said Monday he was encouraged by the state of the race and he thanked the Chattanooga Area Building Trades Council, which represents 12 skilled worker organizations and nearly 10,000 local tradespeople for their endorsement this week as mayor. County.

“Mr. Wamp’s plan to scale Hamilton County’s growth by adding job skills to the Hamilton County school system is something the Chattanooga-area building trades see as necessary,” said the group in a press release.

It is a clear testament to Wamp’s focus on education and expanding job training within the public school system – an absolute necessity if we are to improve the county’s workforce as a crucial means of maintaining the growth of the county and its tax coffers.

When the general election rolls around in August, this county needs the best mayoral choices we can get. Democrat Matt Adams, who has no opposition in his primary election, is one. Weston Wamp, is another. Wamp is by far the best choice we have on the Republican ballot.

May 3 – next Tuesday – is primary election day.

Today is the deadline to request an absentee ballot, and early voting ends Thursday.

Make a plan and vote. Our department depends on it.


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