2 locals face off in county primaries

Two North Hamilton residents are vying to be the county’s top executive.

Voters in the May 6 Republican primary, for which early voting starts April 16, will have to choose between Jim Coppinger of Hixson and Basil Marceaux of Soddy-Daisy as the party’s candidate for Hamilton County mayor.

Richard Ford is running for the post as an independent. He will face the winner of the Republican primary in August.

If Coppinger gets the Republican vote, and wins the general election Aug. 7, he will continue to focus on strengthening public education in the county, bringing more jobs to the area and keeping the county’s budget lean and mean, he said. Coppinger was first elected as the county’s District 3 commissioner in 2006. In 2010 he won a special election to finish former Mayor Claude Ramsey’s term when Ramsey became the state’s lieutenant governor.

“In the last three years, we’ve put close to $100 million into new and expanded schools in Hamilton County. Better education means better jobs,” Coppinger said. “I’ve done three budgets; none of those three budgets have included any property tax increase. I am a strong proponent of being conservative with the county’s dollars.”

Attracting jobs to the county is about the only goal Marceaux shares with Coppinger — although he has a decidedly different plan.

Marceaux says he wants to start a program to help county youth get employed.

“People get in trouble because they have no money. We do everything we can to send jobs out of our areas. So I will need to give them something to do to stay out of trouble,” Marceaux said.

If Marceaux is ultimately elected mayor, he said he would also do his best to stop mandatory emission testing for local vehicles.

“I’m going to stop the emissions program. If our county has it and the county next door doesn’t have it, it’s like we are living in two different countries,” he said. “It’s a tool of mass destruction for my local citizens. I have five cars … they are all paid for, but I can’t drive them on the road because they can’t pass emissions.”

County commissioners voted to make emission testing mandatory in 2005 to avoid federal penalties after the county failed to meet Environmental Protection Agency air quality standards.

Marceaux is also challenging Gov. Bill Haslam for the GOP gubernatorial nod.