ERWIN — The field of candidates for a number of local and district offices will be narrowed prior to the August 2014 general election.
The Unicoi County Republican Party previously submitted a letter to the Unicoi County Election Commission requesting county primary for all applicable offices, and this request has been approved by the Election Commission.
Republican and independent candidates wishing to seek the Unicoi County offices of mayor, trustee, general sessions judge, sheriff, circuit court clerk, county clerk, register of deeds, superintendent of roads, and constables in the county’s three districts may begin picking up petitions to seek office this Friday. All nine Unicoi County Commission seats - three seats in each of the county’s three districts - will also be decided in the August 2014 election. All of the aforementioned offices could be affected by the primary.
“Basically, by calling for the primary, they’ve set the timeline so everyone, whether it’s an independent candidate or a Republican candidate, can start picking up petitions for any of those offices this Friday, Nov. 22,” said Unicoi County Administrator of Elections Sarah Bailey.
These petitions must be filed with the Election Commission Office by noon on Feb. 20. The Republican Primary would be held on May 6, and the general election will take place on Aug. 7.
“We’ve been getting a lot of calls,” Bailey said. “I fully anticipate having a crowd coming on Friday.”
Some local Republican candidates have already made their intentions to seek office known. John Day, who will seek the office of county mayor, said he intends to pick up a petition this Friday. Day said he has been actively gearing up his campaign for the past couple of months and will continue to ramp up his campaign in the coming months. After the first of the year, Day said he will begin neighborhood canvases and “door-to-door” campaigning ahead of the May Republican Primary.
Day said a goal during his campaign is to increase voter turnout in the county.
“We need to get more people out to vote,” he said. “They need to express themselves. After I am elected, my goal is to get more people aware of what government is doing and get more people involved in what government is doing.”
Like Day, Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley said he also intends to pick up a petition on Friday.
“I’m going to seek re-election,” Hensley said. “I’m proud of my department and what we’ve accomplished...I’ve done the very best job I could do, and I’m going to run on that platform.”
Bailey said the Unicoi County Democratic Party has until Friday to request a Democratic Primary. She said this request had not been submitted as of Tuesday afternoon. If the Democratic Party chooses not to have a primary, it has the option of holding a party caucus in which a candidate within the party would be chosen for one or multiple offices. The individuals selected during the caucus would appear on the August ballot as Democratic nominees.
Four seats on the Unicoi County Board of Education - two seats representing the county’s first and third districts - will also be decided in 2014. Bailey said school board candidates would only appear on the August ballot, since school board candidates are required to run as independents per state law. She said these candidates would begin picking up petitions early next year and submitting the paperwork through April.
Bailey said the Unicoi County Election Commission has also received a letter from the county Executive Party requesting a judicial primary. This would affect judicial office in the state’s First Judicial District, which is made up of Unicoi, Carter, Washington and Johnson counties. Affected office would include district attorney, public defender, chancellor, circuit court judge and criminal court judge, Bailey said.