District Attorney Candidates Defend Perceived Weaknesses at UTC Debate

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — Last night, all three candidates for Hamilton County District Attorney made their case for election before a crowd of college students, attorneys, and members of the public.

“I have been an attorney for a long, long time,” said Democratic candidate John Brooks.

“I would like to hit the refresh button,” said Republican challenger Coty Wamp.

“We have done some very good things for this community,” Republican incumbent Neil Pinkston said of his office.

The debate was held at UTC, and students were present.

Democrat John Brooks was challenged on his experience with criminal cases.

“I’ve seen every kind of case. I’ve handled cases to the US Supreme Court, to the State Supreme court. I think I’m well qualified and well-trained to do the work of a district attorney,” Brooks said.

Incumbent Neal Pinkston was questioned on his wife’s employment at the DA’s Office.

“I structured the office or the organization around the Sheriff’s Office, in particular, in this county, where Sheriff Hammond employs several relatives, as well as other offices across the state, to come in compliance with the state policy,” Pinkston said.

And Republican challenger Coty Wamp responded to questions around her limited experience.

“I do not adhere to the philosophy that the person who’s been doing the job the longest is the best person for the job,” she said.

Brooks brought Wamp’s experience into question once again, after the debate.

“I think Mr Pinkston is an excellent trail attorney. Ms. Wamp isn’t,” said Brooks.

Wamp responded to this criticism by explaining her trial experience.

“I’ve tried three homicides as a prosecutor, one homicide as a defense attorney. I’ve tried a handful of other felonies, two aggravated robberies, a rape of a child. My record with law enforcement speaks for itself,” she said.

The republican primary is on May 3.

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