Wamps win Hamilton County mayoral and district attorney’s races

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Republican Weston Wamp defeated Democrat Matt Adams in the race for Hamilton County mayor on Thursday after a close general election turned upside down in the 11th hour by leaked emails.

Wamp, 35, succeeds outgoing Mayor Jim Coppinger, who was appointed to the role in 2011 before being elected to two consecutive terms.

“The most important thing we can do is just convey the spirit that county government exists to serve everyone across the county,” Wamp said. “Great transparency, working hard every day. And I think from that you’re going to see a lot of opportunities to serve, from the school system, which we’ve talked about at length, to rethinking the way we recruit great companies here.”

Wamp’s sister, attorney Coty Wamp, 33, also convinced Democrat John Allen Brooks. In May, she defeated eight-year incumbent Neal Pinkston in the Republican primary.

Overall, the election marks a major shift in the composition of the district government. Just three seats on the 11-member Hamilton County Commission were contested Thursday, but at least six new commissioners will end up sitting on the body, which will expand from nine to 11 members in September.

Three incumbents chose not to run for re-election and one, Commissioner Randy Fairbanks, R-Soddy Daisy lost his primary in May.

Acting commissioners David Sharpe, D-Red Bank, and Steve Highlander, R-Ooltewah, defeated their respective challengers – Ruth Jeno, a member of the Red Bank City Commission, and Steve Caudle, senior pastor of the Greater Second Missionary Baptist Church retain their positions on the board.

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Hamilton County candidates court and celebrate Thursday

Sharpe represents District 6 and Highlander District 9. District 6 includes North Chattanooga, Northshore, Riverview, and Stuart Heights, and District 9 includes Birchwood, Hunter, Meadowview, and Harrison Bay.

Highlander said he was grateful he and opponent Caudle had a clean campaign. He previously served two terms on the Hamilton County School Board and was appointed to the commission in 2021.

“I think for one thing we have to do a lot of political healing,” he said of the commission’s main priority going forward. “We need to fix some fences and I think we all need to work together for the good of the county.”

Sharpe did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night.

In the newly created District 11, former County Commissioner Joe Graham, a Republican, narrowly defeated business owner Montrell Besley, a Democrat, as of press time. District 11 includes Alton Park, East Lake, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Valley and St. Elmo.

Activist Marie Mott defeated City Councilman Marvene Noel in the race for the District 8 seat on the Chattanooga City Council.

Incumbent Bill Knowles, a Republican, easily defeated Independents Chester Heathington Jr. and Nivek Rucker to retain his position as Hamilton County Clerk.

On June 30, city and county officials announced plans to build a new $79.5 million stadium for the Chattanooga Lookouts at the former site of the US Pipe/Wheland Foundry in the South Broad District. Weston Wamp made this a core issue in recent weeks, arguing the decision came too close to an election and would pose too great a risk for taxpayers.

Emails released last week showed Wamp, then working for Lamp Post Group, discussed a position with the Lookouts in late 2014 when Hardball Capital CEO Jason Freier and former investor John Woods were considering buying the team.

Wamp never took a job with the team, with Freier claiming in a 2018 email that he didn’t want Wamp to be associated with the Lookouts after Wamp made a racist remark during a January 2015 meeting with company management . Wamp has denied making any offensive comments and said he was the one who downvoted the position.

The news also suggests that Wamp backed the idea of ​​a new stadium for the team at the time, but Wamp has claimed aspects of the project were different then and have changed since.

Wamp is a local entrepreneur and the son of former US Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Chattanooga. He thought about the choice of himself and his sister.

“It’s a wild experience,” said Weston Wamp. “You know, I’m not sure I’ve fully processed all of this. But at the end of the day, Coty and I aren’t, you know, we’re not really impressed with ourselves or each other. I mean she’s very talented. Our community will realize what we have long lacked in an effective prosecutor. Coty and I don’t worry about awards. I mean, we grew up in a house where public service came first. We both have a heart for public service.”

In 2019, Weston Wamp founded a nonprofit called the Millennial Debt Foundation, which focuses on raising awareness about America’s skyrocketing national debt.

Wamp defeated two opponents, Hamilton County Commission Chairwoman Sabrena Smedley and businessman Matt Hullander, in the Republican primary in May. He would be the youngest mayor in Hamilton County since the position was created nearly half a century ago.

Wamp has made education a key element of his campaign message, pledging to create a parents’ council with representatives from all 79 schools in Hamilton County that would advise the mayor’s office on issues such as the annual budget and capital expenditures.

Adams, 26, is a paralegal and joined the army at 17 where he served in national security law and law enforcement and defense. He is now in the Army Reserve, serving as the Senior Administrative Paralegal.

Contact David Floyd at [email protected] or at 423-757-6249. Follow him on Twitter @flavid_doyd.

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