Crowded field in Carter County Circuit Court Clerk race

John Thompson • Apr 30, 2014 at 11:35 AM

ELIZABETHTON — There will be a new clerk for Carter County Circuit Court this year, as incumbent John Paul Mathes is retiring from the post.

There are four candidates to succeed Mathes in the May 6 Republican Primary. Three of the candidates are employees or former employees of the office. The three are Johnny Blankenship, Tammy Kyviakidis and Donna McKinney. The fourth candidate is veteran law enforcement officer Frank Peters. The winner of the Republican nomination will face independent John Buddy Street in the August general election.

Blankenship began his career in Carter County government as an employee of the Sheriff’s Department in 1993. He worked his way up from dispatcher at a time before the county’s 911 was created. In 1998, he was promoted to administrative assistant to investigations and assisted with numerous high-profile cases and he was also responsible for reporting crime statistics to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations. In 2006, Blankenship transferred to the Circuit Court Clerk’s office as administrative assistant.

Blankenship said his years of experience in law enforcement will aid him as the court clerk.

Donna McKinney began her career with the clerk’s office on Jan. 4, 2003. During her career, she worked in several areas of the office, which serves not only Circuit Court, but also Criminal Court, Sessions Court and Juvenile Court. She said most of her experience was in Sessions Court.

McKinney expressed her interest in solving an audit finding of surplus funds that need to be disbursed to the proper people. The office has make progress in finding the rightful owners of some of the excess funds, but McKinney said she wants to fix the problem.

McKinney said she wants a good relationship with the public and other county offices. Tammy Kyviakidis has served the longest of the three candidates with Circuit Court Clerk experience. She has worked in all the courts of the office, but for many years she has been the principal clerk for the two Circuit Court judges.

Kyviakidis said she will work on improving the relationships in the office.

Frank Peters is a career law enforcement officer.

He expressed concern with the surplus funds reported by the state audit and also to the numerous errors and management’s lack of oversight uncovered by the audit.

Peters said his law enforcement career has given him “extensive experience in investigating financial crimes and I know the importance of strong accounting procedures in order to protect the county’s assets.”

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