Washington County gets set for early voting

Gary B. Gray • Jun 28, 2012 at 6:45 AM

Those wanting to exercise their right to vote in the Aug. 2 state primary and Washington County general election must be registered by the end of the day Tuesday in advance of early voting, which begins July 13 and ends July 28.

Administrator of Elections Maybell Stewart said there are good reasons to cast your vote early.

“Voting early is beneficial for the voter as well as our office staff,” she said. “If there are any changes that need to be made, voters will have more time to do so. There also is an advantage in that there are shorter lines and wait times. There also was a recent change in law by the General Assembly which will help, because it has reduced the minimum age for absentee voters from 65 to 60.”

The anticipated countywide local sales tax referendum will be on the August ballot. The language regarding how it will appear has been finalized, and it is basically a matter of voters making check marks on a line marked either “for” or “against.”

The referendum will be on the ballot in the form of a question. It reads as follows: “Shall the resolution passed pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. 67-6-701 to 716, by the county of Washington, Tenn., which was published in a newspaper of general circulation and which increases the local sales tax rate from 2.5 percent to 2.75 percent with such increase to be used for operation of public schools become operative?”

On April 5, the Johnson City Commission unanimously voted to support the quarter-cent local option sales tax increase refer- endum, but it also agreed without dissent to reject Washington County’s request to sign an agreement to split part of the newfound money down the middle.

After the state collects all sales tax proceeds, half is returned to the city and county on a monthly basis. That split is roughly 55 percent and 45 percent, with the county receiving the larger share based on a slightly larger student head count. The other half goes back to where the tax revenue was generated, and it is this portion of revenue the county wanted the city to split. The ratio now is that is about 85/15 with the majority going to the city.

If approved, the increase would bring the total sales tax rate to 9.75 — the maximum allowed by state law.

The state and federal general election is Nov. 6. The last day to register to vote in this election is Oct. 9, and early voting begins Oct. 17 and ends Nov. 1.

The state primary includes four races. Tennessee’s incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker faces Fred Anderson, Mark Twain Clemens, Brenda Lenard and Zack Poskevich. Democratic hopefuls for Corker’s seat include Mark Clayton, Larry Crim, Gary Gene Davis, Dave Hancock, Park Overall, T.K. Owens and Benjamin Roberts.

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, is running for his third term in the House and has no Republican opposition. Gary attorney Alan Woodruff is the lone Democrat on the state primary ballot. Independents Michael Salyer and Karen Sherry Brackett also will run for this spot. However, their names will be on the November election ballot only.

Incumbent State Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough faces fellow Republican James Van Huss for the right to run as the GOP candidate for the state’s 6th House District seat. Democrat Michael Clark is running unopposed and will face the Republican winner.

State Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough faces no Republican opposition for the 7th House District spot. Nancy Fischman is the lone Democratic candidate.

At the county level, six candidates have qualified to fill the 8th Commission District position. Among them is Steven Light, who was appointed by the County Commission to fill the remainder of Evert Jarrett’s term. Jarrett died in April.

The remaining candidates include Jerry Boswell, Eddie Haren, John Abe Teague, Tommy Crowder and B.J. Robbins.

The 7th Commission District is held by Mike Ford, who is running unopposed. Ford has held that seat since May 2011, after former Commissioner Richard Shadden died.

Assessor of Property Scott Buckingham is running unopposed for that seat, and three incumbent members of the Washington County Board of Education are running for the 2nd District spot: Phillip McLain, Mary Lo Silvers and Todd Ganger.

There also are county constable races in three districts including John Couch, Joshua Layne Burleson and Kenneth Phillips, 1st District; Scotty Carrier, Rusty Chinouth and Chris Mills, 2nd District, and Mark Bacon, Ricky Gillenwater, Dickie Wines and Ricky Dunn, 3rd District.

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