District 7 County Commission candidates Phil Smartt and Sabrena Turner on Wednesday traded barbs over their roles in fighting annexation.
The Smartt campaign said, "Sabrena Turner, a candidate for the County Commission, District 7 race, has stepped across the line by declaring to the voters that 'she is the only candidate fighting against forced annexation.' Her signs are all over the district stating this and it is simply not the case.
"Phil Smartt, another candidate for the District 7 race, was fighting forced annexation while serving on his mission trip to Bosnia in 2012."
Mr. Smartt said, "I called Mike Carter to express my opposition to forced annexation and told him of my desire to have him pass legislation that would put a stop to this in the state of Tennnessee.
"Nothing could be further from the truth that these Turner campaign signs. Just look at my website and my campaign literature. It is very clear where I stand on this position. I just want to set the record straight on this very important issue."
His campaign staff said, "Mike Carter is again submitting a bill to the Legislature fighting annexation and he knows that Phil is doing all that he can to help fight forced annexation even though he is not a an elected official."
Ms. Turner said, "I encourage Phil Smartt and his daughter, Deseret Ward, to read my sign. The sign clearly states that I was the “ONLY candidate that fought annexation.” This statement is true and accurate based on my involvement with the Hamilton County Residents Against Annexation.
"When this issue was being debated back in 2009 and 2010, I was an active member of this grassroots organization and was instrumental in helping them raise money, canvassing neighborhoods in District 7 to collect signatures for a petition drive and speaking out on the annexation issue at various community forums and public meetings during this time. Unfortunately, my opponents in this race cannot make this claim.
"While my opponents may share my views on the annexation issue now, I’m the only candidate that was fighting on the front line and getting results for residents of District 7."
Bill Reesor, board member of Hamilton County Residents Against Annexation and a Turner backer, said, "Having been a board member of HCRAA, the non-profit group of citizens that actively fought forced annexation from day one, I can categorically state that Mr. Phil Smartt, (unlike Sabrena Turner - a board member of HCRAA, was nowhere to be found at anytime while we organized, held neighborhood meetings, raised funds, hired an attorney, spoke at City Council meetings and homeowners associations, met with state legislators in Nashville, stood on street corners with annexation protest signs, were interviewed by local TV stations, made phone calls, put up signs opposing forced annexation, and met weekly as a chartered non-profit group to oppose forced annexation.
"I would challenge Mr. Smartt to read Sabrena Turner's signs. Claiming to have made a phone call to a legislator about annexation while out of the country doesn't honestly represent having fought against annexation by any stretch of one's imagination.
"Trying to claim 'me too' after the fact is like trying to enter your horse in the Derby the day after the race. Sorry, Phil, people want this race to give the folks confidence that they are being given accurate representations by all the candidates."
Jonathan Mason, manager of the Turner campaign, said, "If Mr. Smartt believes that one phone call made three years after the fight against annexation began compares to the countless hours Sabrena spent with her neighbors fighting the forced annexation of their homes, he must believe that his words speak louder than his actions. The voters in Hamilton County deserve more than a politician that just phones it in. Sabrena Turner will continue to let her actions against forced annexation speak for her."