Three county leaders were sworn in Friday morning at the Hamilton County Courthouse.
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, General Sessions Court Judge Gary Starnes and District 3 Commissioner Marty Haynes each took the oath of office. The legal swearing in came one day after Hamilton County Election Commission officials certified the results of the Aug. 2 election.
Upon taking the oath for a two-year term of office, Coppinger said it was an "honor and a privilege" to begin his second term as county mayor. Coppinger, who was appointed to his first term in 2010 following the departure of former mayor and current Deputy Gov. Claude Ramsey, said he would "wholeheartedly" place his focus on public education, jobs and economic development in the county.
"Obviously, the economic development and the jobs piece is extremely important, but it's about public education," he said. "We'll be talking a lot about public education as we move forward and continue to tap in as a resource to the Department of Education and try to help and encourage them."
The mayor also said he would be committed to running an "efficient government."
"We've been able to do that with the help of the County Commission, in terms of trying to eliminate and reduce the size of government, and at the same time making available money to spend on our public schools," he said.
Judge Gary Starnes, who won a seven-person race for the General Sessions Court seat—which became vacant following the sudden death of Judge Bob Moon in January—will serve a two-year-term before having the option to run for an eight-year term in 2014.
Starnes said he would be committed to being accessible and open in his new position.
"I promise to faithfully uphold the duties that you've voted me into office for," Starnes said. "I'm going to have an open-door policy, so you can talk to me anytime you want. I'm really looking forward to taking office."
Commissioner Marty Haynes defeated Commissioner Mitch McClure in March's primary election and candidate Mitzi Yates Aug. 2. Haynes, who will also serve a two-year term, offered brief remarks following his swearing in.
"This is not my district, it's the folks of District 3," Haynes said. "… This is a huge honor."
Other winners from the Aug. 2 election, including school board members-elect Donna Horn, George Ricks, Rhonda Thurman and Jonathan Welch, along with Hamilton County Assessor of Property Bill Bennett, will take their oaths in a ceremony at the Chattanooga Convention and Trade Center on Sept. 4. Coppinger, Starnes and Haynes will also take ceremonial oaths of office at the event.
Updated @ 11:53 a.m. on 08/17/12 to change the length of Haynes' term from four years to two.