Lynch defeated challenger Johnny Day in Tuesday’s Republican primary. According to unofficial vote totals, Lynch received 2,750 votes, which represented 68.8 percent of the total vote, to Day’s 1,228 votes, or 30.72 percent. A total of 3,997 votes were cast in the county mayor’s race, according to the unofficial numbers.
After Tuesday’s results were released, Lynch said it was a “blessing” that he had won and that he was surprised by the margin.
“I never have walked into a race and walked out thinking I had won,” Lynch said. “I’m humbled by this, and I hope the people who voted for me will come back out in August put another vote in for me and, of course, if win in August I will continue on and keep on doing the best job I can. I’m glad to be here.”
With Tuesday’s victory, Lynch will now face former county mayor Larry Rose, who is running as an independent candidate, in the August general election.
Lynch has served as Unicoi County mayor since 2006. He earned his bachelor’s degree in corrections from East Tennessee State University. In the early 1980s, he started Greg’s Drive-In restaurant in Erwin, which he and his family operated for around two decades. Prior to his first election as county mayor, Lynch worked as a youth services office and with misdemeanor probation clients in Unicoi County Sessions Court.
Lynch currently serves on several boards, including the First Tennessee Development District, the East Tennessee Human Resource Agency, the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency and the Alliance for Business and Training. In 2013, he was elected to serve as the president of the Tennessee Association of County Mayors.
Prior to Tuesday’s primary, Lynch said county officials must work to retain existing industries while recruiting new ones. He also said the county must soon begin working on its 2014-15 budget and addressing potential revenue shortfalls in the upcoming fiscal year. He also said the county must continue to promote itself as a destination for recreational tourism.
“I believe Unicoi County’s poised to move forward,” Lynch said. “It’s been a pretty rough time economically all over the country, and we’ve managed to hold our own. The city of Erwin and the town of Unicoi are working real hard on projects to make the community a better place to live, and we’ll continue to support them. And we’ve got the (Rocky Fork State Park), so I think it’s pretty promising. I hope that I’m here after August election because I really want to be a part of this next four years. I think that we can really achieve some pretty good things.”