Thursday was the qualifying deadline for candidates seeking a number of county offices this year to return signed petitions to the county Election Commission office.
Three candidates are vying for county mayor, and two of those will square off in May’s Republican primary. Incumbent mayor Greg Lynch and Johnny Day each filed petitions to seek the office as a Republican candidate.
Law enforcement officials said Lynch and Day were involved in a brief physical altercation that occurred in Lynch’s office in November.
The winner of that primary will be challenged by former county mayor Larry Rose, who is running as an independent candidate, in the August general election.
Three candidates will contend for county sheriff in the Republican primary: incumbent sheriff Mike Hensley, probation officer and previous candidate James Lengel and Erwin Police Department investigator Tony Buchanan.
That winner will be uncontested in the August general election. A fourth candidate, local court system employee Don Whitson, had filed a petition to seek the office as an independent candidate. Whitson was the only of the four candidates who had not secured Peace Officers Standards and Training certification, a requirement to seek the office, by Thursday’s qualifying deadline.
Whitson met with POST Commission officials in Nashville on Thursday, but Department of Commerce and Insurance Public Information Officer Katelyn Abernathy said Whitson’s application was denied Thursday, meaning Whitson will not appear on the August ballot. She said in an email that POST is in the process of putting together a letter that, once signed by the POST chairman, will be sent to Whitson.
This year will bring big changes to the County Commission, as there will be at least four new faces on the nine-member panel following this year’s election cycle. Current commissioners Sue Jean Wilson, Dwight Bennett, James Howell and Mickey Hatcher are not seeking re-election.
Each of the county’s three districts is represented by three seats on the commission. All candidates who have filed petitions in hopes of representing the county’s 1st and 3rd districts did so as Republican candidates. The three top vote-getters following that primary will be uncontested on the general election ballot.
Those filing in the 1st District include three incumbent county commissioners — current commission Chairwoman Marie Rice, Loren Thomas and Gene Wilson. Also vying to represent the district are Stacy Wigand and Joey Bailey.
Candidates who filed petition to run for 2nd District seats on the commission are incumbent commissioners Kenneth Garland and Bill Hensley, Brian Delp, Jason Harris, Glenn White and Donald “Stephen” Wilson. The top three vote-getters in the Republican primary will square off against Democratic candidates Robert Martin and Richard Smith in August for three seats on the commission.
None of the candidates representing the 3rd District sought re-election in 2014, so three new faces will represent the district following this year’s primary. The ones who filed petitions are Kenneth Calain, Walter Garland, James McLellan, John Mosley and Bridget Peters.
The same two candidates who vied for the office of county clerk four years ago are once again seeking the office in the Republican primary. Incumbent Mitzi Bown and Patty Treadway filed petitions for the office.
Several uncontested offices will appear on the ballot. Paul Berry is once again seeking the office of trustee, Debbie Tittle is seeking re-election to the office of register of deeds, current Circuit Court Clerk Darren Shelton is seeking re-election, as is current
Superintendent of Roads Terry Haynes. Sessions Court Judge David R. Shults is also uncontested on the Republican primary ballot.
Each of Unicoi County’s three districts is also represented by a constable, and one candidate in each district has filed paperwork to seek his respective district’s office.
Howard Riddle is running for 1st District constable, Gary Wayne Edwards is running in the 2nd District and Timmy Lewis is running in the 3rd District.
County Board of Education races for the 1st and 3rd districts will be decided in the August election.
The Republican primary will be held May 6. Early voting for the primary will begin on April 16 and continue through May 1. The general election will be held Aug. 7.