CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Come next Monday, Hamilton County will have a new mayor.
Nine county commissioners will select him or her and voters won't have a chance to hear from all the candidates, in public.
Six men and two women are vying for the job.
But Eyewitness News has uncovered new questions about whether all the candidates who've qualified followed the rules for applying.
You could say that our asking, in itself, raises questions about just what those rules are.
Particularly for the candidate many presume, is the "favorite".
Physical rehab specialist Russ Collins says he didn't get in to win the Commission's appointment as Hamilton County's new Mayor. "I just want to make the average person understand that you can make a difference."
The way he understood the rules, he was required to submit a résumé to County Commission staff by close of business last Friday, December 17.
Seven other candidates also submitted resumes. County Commissioner Jim Coppinger's covers two pages; Register of Deeds Pam Hurst's, almost two-and-a-half.
"I would assume they would deny me running if I hadn't had that information," Collins says.
Monday, Commission staffers forwarded a list of the written rules they say candidates were required to follow. Those rules state than applicants seeking appointment must submit a letter of intent, a résumé or vitae, a Driver's License (proving he/she is at least 25 years old), proof of Hamilton County residency (one year) and eligibility to vote.
As of Monday, the only document Commission had received from presumptive frontrunner, former judge and current mayoral assistant Mike Carter, was a two-letter asking for consideration.
"I would find that a little surprising," Collins says.
Carter wouldn't go on camera Monday, but he tells Eyewitness News he did exactly what commission staff told him to do.
"I don't believe I have a resume on hand, but I'll compile one, if that's what I need to do," Carter says.
Hamilton County Attorney Rheubin Taylor maintains that Tennessee law doesn't require Carter do so.
"Any John Q. Public can get up and apply on Monday if they want," he says. "All they need is for a Commissioner to nominate them.
Register of Deeds Pam Hurst has declined to go on camera, but she tells Eyewitness News that it's doubtful that Commissioners would consider her a candidate had she not submitted her résumé. She declined to answer whether she believes Carter might have bent the rules.
"It does sound contradictory," Collins says.
Collins has withdrawn his application, telling Commissioners, in writing, that by not interviewing Mayoral candidates in open meetings, it "gives the appearance of a clandestine,'Good Ole Boy' approach to politics."
"The government is not working for the people," he says. "They're telling the people what they're gonna get."
Carter has promised Eyewitness News that he will forward a résumé to WRCBtv.com, so that citizens may compare his qualifications to those of the other applicants.
So who put out the rules to apply?
Commission staffers told us to ask County Attorney Rheubin Taylor.