Republicans tee up similar ideas at Hamilton County Mayoral debate; vastly different implementations

The three candidates get animated over how to stop gang violence in Hamilton County

The Republican field for Hamilton County Mayor is not very large: Sabrena Smedley; Weston Wamp; and Matt Hullander. While they all have similar ideas as to what they want Hamilton County to be, they’re vastly different as to how they’d go about it.

Hullander: “Being a conservative, to me, starts with my belief in Biblical values.”

Smedley: “I’m the only one standing up here that has a proven track record.”

Wamp: We’ve got to, within the realistic reach of county government, be willing to invest in other opportunities for young people.”

There were no fireworks or punches thrown at the debate. But each candidate became animated as to how to combat gang violence in the area.

That part started with lobbyist Weston Wamp. He believes that most of the crime starts with the lack of economic opportunity. It begins with schooling disparities, especially when it comes to literacy, but it’s not always the student’s nor the teachers’ fault.

“We all know that it’d be great for all our kids to read on grade level, but we ought not give up on the kids who aren’t, and we ought not throw our teachers under the bus like they’re not doing their best.”

On the opposite end was Smedley, the candidate with eight years under her belt on County Commission. For her, this issue is concrete. Invest in law enforcement, and you can stop gangs and violence from increasing.

“I’m going to be tough on crime. And, I do believe we need another gang task force made up of city and county officers, along with local, state and federal agencies.”

During the debate, businessman Matt Hullander sided with Smedley: that law enforcement needs our help to combat the violence. After the debate, he changed his tune a bit, feeling that police should earn the trust of the community and that non-profit organizations can help get that done.

“I want to bring all the non-profit folks in and figure out … There’s some type of trauma in that child’s life, and they want to feel accepted, and that’s one way they do it. So, we need to address it before it gets that far.”

Early voting for this race, as well as all the others, begins April 13th, with the primary coming on May 3rd.

Categories: Chattanooga, Elections, Featured, Government & Politics, Hamilton County, Local News

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