Thursday’s federal/state and county general elections produced a typically low turnout, but the coming Nov. 8 general election won’t be as humdrum thanks to the presidential election, Johnson City Commission, Johnson City Board of Education and Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen races on tap.
Washington County Election Commission Administrator Maybell Stewart said Friday she expects the Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump “D” and “R” presidential affair to considerably boost the county’s 40 precinct turnout.
“We always have more voters during a presidential election,” she said. “Usually, about two-thirds of our registered voters turn out.”
Washington County has a total of 76,081 registered votes. This includes inactive voters — those who did not vote in the 2012 presidential election cycle but remain eligible. Of that total, only 7,196 voters hit the polls Thursday. That’s 11.6 percent of all registered voters.
“That’s low for a state primary,” Stewart said.
By comparison, 76,342 Washington County voters were eligible to vote in the 2012 August primary — 261 more than this year. Also 11,443 total votes were cast in that primary for a bit larger turnout of about 15 percent.
Stewart said 44,282 Washington County voters cast their ballots in the 2012 November general election. That equates to a 58 percent turnout. However, she cautioned the total number of registered voters increased between August and November of that year.
While the presidential face off is the headliner, Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District seat is also on the line. Republican incumbent Phil Roe looks like a good bet, as he seeks a fifth term. He is being challenged by Democrat Alan Bohms and independent Robert Franklin.
Incumbent state Rep. Matthew Hill, R-7th, will get another challenge this year from Democrat Nancy Fischman. Hill is seeking a fifth term. Fischman lost to the incumbent in a 2012 effort.
Incumbent state Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-6th, will be tested by John Baker, who has never run for public office. Van Huss is seeking a third term.
State House representatives serve two-year terms.
The Johnson City Commission also will get a makeover in the first-ever November municipal election. In 2014, voters approved moving the election to coincide with the general election.
Three of five seats are up for grabs. Current Commissioner Jeff Banyas, whose term is expiring, has elected not to run again this year. Commissioners are elected at large for four-year terms.
So far, incumbent Mayor Clayton Stout and commissioner Ralph Van Brocklin have picked up filing papers. Other candidates include Washington County Commissioner Joe Wise, William “Bud” Hill and Todd Fowler.
The Johnson City Board of Education also will fill three seats, one of which will be left empty by Sheila Cox. Candidates so far include Tim Belisle, current school board chairman, William Smith, a former educator, Jonathan Kinnick, who ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the last election, Ronald E. Scott, who heads a local credit union and Stacie Kilday Torbett.
Board of Education members are elected at large and serve four-year terms.
The town of Jonesborough also will elect its mayor and two of its four aldermen in November. Aldermen are elected at large and serve four-year terms. Staggered terms allow two aldermen to run every two years.
The mayor is elected separately and serves a two-year term.
As of this week, incumbent Mayor Kelly Wolfe has picked up for another run. Jerome Fitzgerald, a former alderman, has picked up to run for mayor and for one of the alderman seats. He has not yet decided which route he plans to take.
Incumbents Adam Dickson and Terri Countermine will run again for alderman, as will Fitzgerald, should he choose to do so.
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