New Hamilton County commissioner selected - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

New Hamilton County commissioner selected

By Gordon Boyd
Eyewitness News Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- After four deadlocked votes before choosing a new County Mayor, two more trying to select a Vice Chairman, Hamilton County Commission Chairman Larry Henry was preparing for contingencies Thursday.

"If we have multiple nominations, three or more, for County Commissioners, we'll eliminate the lowest vote-getters, and run-off the top two," says Henry.

He never gets that far.

Of the eleven candidates hoping to fill Now-Mayor Jim Coppinger's vacated seat in District 3, Commissioners nominate only two.

"I make all my decisions through prayer," Commissioner Chester Bankston says.

Bankston, and six other Commissioners, choose Middle Valley Church of God Pastor Mitch McClure. The margin is enough for McClure to defeat Lakesite Commissioner David Howell on the first ballot.

"I've been out there involved in the community with the people so perhaps that was a positive for me," Pastor McClure tells Eyewitness News.

McClure's selection restores the Commission to nine members.

Or, more practically speaking, he now is the 'fifth vote' to ensure Commissioners won't deadlock, as they did four times before Coppinger's opponent, former mayoral aide Mike Carter, withdrew and Commissioners selected Coppinger Mayor unanimously.

"From the perspective of the public, there may be factions," Commissioner Tim Boyd says, "But a lot of these men have strong convictions one way or the other and when they make their minds up, they put it out there like I did now."

Boyd cast the lone vote for Howell. He now says McClure will make an excellent Commissioner.

The man McClure replaces also denies the Commission is fractionalized.

"It was people making independent decisions based on the knowledge they had about all the issues," Mayor Jim Coppinger says, "Not just appointments, but any issue."

McClure now must help Commissioners choose a Vice Chairman.

"I wasn't asked to make any kind of commitments, if that's what you're asking," says McClure, "And I've made no commitments."

Fellow Commissioners maintain that other issues are more pressing, and demand cooperation, if not unity.

"We're gonna be surprised by the all the things coming into Hamilton County," Bankston says, "And I don't think we're ready for it. We need to shift gears and get ready."

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