A candidate who qualified to run for County Commission District 5 currently lives just across the line in District 7.
The election office said Katherlyn Geter advised that she plans to move into District 5 prior to the Aug. 2 general election.
She is running against District 5 incumbent Greg Beck in the May Democratic primary.
Ms. Geter lives in a neighborhood near Silverdale Baptist Academy. Most of District 7 is on the east side of I-75, but a section to the rear of the City Cafe is west of I-75.
Kerry Steelman, election administrator, said a candidate does not have to live in a district in order to qualify to run for that district.
He said, "The governing statute does not stipulate residency in the district is required to qualify to seek the office. However, residency in the district must be established in order to serve as a 'member' of the County Commission."
Mr. Steelman cited TCA §5-5-102 (b) Membership in County Legislative Bodies
“Members shall reside within and be qualified voters of the districts that they represent.”
Jennifer Gregory, campaign manager for Ms. Geter, said, "Katherlyn Geter is a 34-year resident of Chattanooga, having moved here with her mother as a child. She has been a proud member of the Mt Cannan Baptist Church for eight years, where she serves as their Lead for Health and Wellness outreach. Many of Katherlyn’s clients live and work in District 5, where she has the opportunity to assist everyday people obtain and keep Healthcare.
"As she has invested in this community, she plans to move just a few blocks away into the district with her two sons, Austin and Jack. Katherlyn continues to work with many faith-based organizations and communities throughout the region to provide health education and assistance with accessing benefits. Her goal is not only to increase understanding of community resources, but to contribute to reducing health disparities among minorities in communities throughout Tennessee.
“Rather than deal with the issues in our district, rather than talk about how we can make life better in District 5, we are discussing where I live in the community. I am happy to discuss the issues in our district- inclusion in education, partnerships within our community, and growth in our public healthcare system. I will continue to observe election rules and laws and will continue to advocate as a Champion of Change for District 5.”
Floyd Kilpatrick, who is part of an advisory group to Commissioner Beck, said, "The officers, members and friends of the United Community Action Alliance, non-profit organization founded in 2015 to represent Hamilton County Commission District 5 and serves approximately 34,000 constituents in Eastdale, Glenwood, Washington Hills, North Brainerd, East Chattanooga and Summit.What concerns many of the residents of district 5 is whether Mrs. Geter can truly be a champion of change when she appears to not live in any of the communities located in the district where she wants to champion her change.
"According to Tennessee election law the following legal provisions govern the election for candidates of Hamilton County Commission:
COUNTY COMMISSION - Basic qualifications of TCA 8-18-101; and - Shall reside within and be a qualified voter of the district represented. (TCA 5-5-102)
8-18-101. Eligibility to hold office.
All persons eighteen (18) years of age or older who are citizens of the United States and of this state, and have been inhabitants of the state, county, district, or circuit for the period required by the constitution and laws of the state, are qualified to hold office under the authority of this state.
(a) (1) The county legislative body shall be composed of not less than nine (9) nor more than twenty-five (25) members.
(b) Members shall reside within and be qualified voters of the districts that they represent.
"According to the Alliance, any candidate seeking to represent the district should live in the district and have ties and roots to the communities, residents, businesses and institutions that comprise Hamilton County district 5. These issues are not unique to this election but hit at the very core of democratic representation. In fact, the voters of the City of Chattanooga faced these issues in 2007 when, then City Councilwoman, Marti Rutherford was removed from office for holding an elected seat in an electoral district she did not reside in.
"Ms. Rutherford had faced both an ouster petition filed by City Attorney Randy Nelson as well as charges against her lodged by her fellow council members after public outcry by registered voters on the issue of her residency. The overwhelming feeling at the time was that voters were being disenfranchised by having a person in office that did not live in the district they purported to represent.
"Ms. Rutherford ran for the District 6 post and won. When questioned about the residency, she said she had a "mother-in-law apartment" on Alta Vista in District 6.
"City Attorney Randy Nelson carried out an investigation and said he concluded Ms. Rutherford was not a valid resident of District 6 and should be removed from the council."