Hamilton County Mayor: Carter or Coppinger? - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hamilton County Mayor: Carter or Coppinger?

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Story by Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- Hamilton County leaders hope to name a replacement for current Mayor Claude Ramsey this will be the week.

It's down to two men: former General Sessions Judge Mike Carter, and Commissioner Jim Coppinger.

A week ago Monday, commissioners deadlocked in their efforts to elect a new county mayor.

They'll meet again this week, in hopes of reaching a decision.

Commissioner Chairman Fred Skillern hopes one of the commissioners will have a change of heart before Wednesday's vote.

In the meantime, the candidates are staying in the public eye.

Mike Carter and Jim Coppinger will attend a public forum Monday night at Red Bank High School.

Both candidates see it as an opportunity to keep the public informed.

Mike Carter, special assistant to Mayor Ramsey, even took it a step further over the weekend by launching mikecarterformayor.com.

With another commission vote looming, county mayor candidates Mike Carter and Commissioner Jim Coppinger are bidding their time very differently.

"I want the public to feel a part of the process," says Carter. "I want them to have a say."

Over the weekend, the former general sessions judge and acting assistant to Mayor Ramsey launched a website in support for his candidacy.

He posted a video message encouraging the public to get involved. In it, Carter lays out his experience saying his many years of litigation combined with his position as special assistant to Mayor Ramsey have more than prepared him.

"I look at government to serve the people, not people serve the government," says Carter.

Carter asks people to contact their commissioner of his behalf, something Jim Coppinger says he won't do.

"I know these are independent thinkers that will come up with a decision," says Coppinger.

Vice Chairman Jim Coppinger is in a slightly different position than Mike Carter. As an acting commissioner, he cannot discuss the vote with his colleagues.

But Coppinger says his 32 years in the public sector speaks for itself.

"The mayor of this county has to work extremely close with the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners," says Coppinger. "Being a commissioner, I know that."

Coppinger's strength is balancing a budget. In his 8 years as Chattanooga Fire Chief, he says he successfully came in under budget every year. He's been on the commission four years, and served as chairman in 2008.

Both candidates say continuing Mayor Ramsey's vision of attracting new business to Chattanooga is top priority.

"We're going to continue to recruit the large manufacturers & business distributors like Amazon.com," says Coppinger.

"We want every good industry who will become a part of our community and help our people," says Carter.

The commission will vote again Wednesday.

If the vote is tied again, the commission chair will be appointed interim county mayor.

But Chairman Skillern says he won't accept the position because of family reasons.

That would mean Vice Chairman Coppinger would automatically fill the position.

By law, the commission has 120 days from the time they were notified of Ramsey's resignation to make a decision.

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