Candidates gathered at Hamilton Flourishing for the first Republican primary election debate for Hamilton County mayor on Monday, February 21. Running for the position are Republicans Matt Hullander, Sabrena Smedley and Weston Wamp. Also vying for the seat is Democrat Matt Adams, who did not participate in the debate.
According to Wamp, this is the first competitive mayoral election in 28 years. The debate was moderated by Douglas E. Daugherty Sr., the president of Hamilton Flourishing, a local organization dedicated to the “pursuit of a more peaceful and prosperous community,” as stated on its website.
According to the Hamilton Flourishing website, early voting starts on April 13, and new voters must be registered by April 4.
Smedley is serving her second term on the county commission representing, according to her, the fastest growing district in Hamilton County. This district includes East Brainard, Apison, part of Collegedale and Ooltewah. Smedley is the owner of Sabrena Realty Associates, LLC, and Pure Barre Fitness, a fitness boutique operating in two locations.
“It has been rewarding to serve the people of my district, and I look forward to moving on to the executive branch of Hamilton County Mayor,” Smedley said in her opening statement. “I look forward to sharing my vision for Hamilton County when it comes to education, public safety, infrastructure, economic development and opportunities for Hamilton County citizens.”
Hullander is a former business owner and entrepreneur. According to his campaign website, he has served on Chattanooga Chamber’s board of directors and the board of Erlanger and Children’s Hospital in the past. In addition, Hullander has been named “Hamilton County Businessman of the Year.”
“This role needs leadership. I know how to lead. I know how to build teams, and I know how to get things done,” Hullander said in his opening statement.
Wamp is the founder of The Millennial Debt Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to solve the problem of national debt and wasteful government spending. In 2019, he was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s community and technical college systems.
“For my wife and I, it really is about the dreams we have for the community that our four children will grow up in,” Wamp said in his opening statement. “That’s why we’re running. And we’ve turned those dreams into a platform, really the only one this campaign has seen so far. … It’s a picture of what we as parents want to see the community our kids grow up in look like: a safe community, one with great schools where our values are preserved for generations to come.”
In a short video shared on Facebook, Adams, a veteran and former candidate for U.S. House of Representatives for Tennessee, revealed that he valued his time speaking with citizens and discovering what they wanted from a mayor. When asked what he would do in the first month if he was elected mayor, Adams replied:
“I want to sit down with every person in county government and really get a feel for how we can all work together to make Hamilton County the best it can be.”