By Jennifer Pukenas
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/TheLoop)
Newly elected Mayor Jim Coppinger has lived within a five-mile radius his entire life.
Born in 1955, the longtime Hixson, Tennessee resident has devoted years of service to his community.
After graduating from Hixson High School in 1973, Coppinger attended Chattanooga State Community College and the University of Tennesee at Chattanooga. In 1977 he joined the Hamilton County Fire Department. After twenty years of hard work, he became the Fire Chief.
During Coppinger’s reign as Fire Chief, many significant improvements were made, while remaining under budget for eight straight years. Arguably the highest achievement received while Coppinger was Chief was being upgraded to a Class 2 Public Protection Classification and moving into the top .7% of fire departments nationwide. This upgrade is important because it means lower insurance premiums for many Chattanooga homeowners. After eight years, Coppinger retired from the Fire Department “to move on and enjoy some leisure time with family and friends.”
Coppinger is married to Nina Halmontaller Coppinger, another lifelong resident of Hixson and a teacher at Loftis Middle School. Nina Coppinger has two children, Lauren and Blake, from a previous marriage. Jim Coppinger has no children of his own.
In 2006, Coppinger became the Hamilton County Commissioner for District Three. After serving as commissioner for three years, he won re-election in 2010.
In December 2010, Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey decided to step down after 16 years of service to become deputy governor and chief of staff to newly elected Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. Coppinger sought to become the interim mayor, facing opponent Mike Carter, a former Sessions Court Judge.
Coppinger won the vote, decided by Hamilton County Commissioners, and will remain the interim mayor until 2012.
Coppinger was sworn in as the new mayor of Hamilton County January 11, 2011, the same day he became a grandfather when step-daughter Lauren had her first child.