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Elizabethton City Council reviews candidate list for city judge

John Thompson • Jan 21, 2020 at 9:25 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The five candidates for the interim position of Elizabethton city judge are in place and City Council will be filling the position during February’s City Council meeting.

The five are Mark S. Dugger, Jason L. Holly, J. Collins Landstreet II, Teresa Murray Smith, and John W. Walton. All five met the two basic requirements for the job, which is holding a law degree and being a resident of the city. They are vying to replace the late Judge T.J. Little, who recently died while in office.

The job is only a part-time position and currently pays $15,500. The city court usually meets about four times a month.

The person selected by the council will immediately assume the office and serve until after the November general election, when the next judge is elected by the citizens.

Among the information about the candidates:

• Dugger is a third-generation attorney in Elizabethton, HIs grandfather was George Dugger Sr. and his father was George Dugger Jr. He received his law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1983 and joined the Dugger and Cole law firm.

• Holly is  employed with the law firm of Herndon, Coleman, Brading & McKee. He obtained his law degree from Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama. Holly is also well known in the community as the public address announcer for Elizabethton High School varsity sports. His sons are members of the state championship football team.

• Landstreet received his law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1986 and has practiced law in Elizabethton since 1989.

• Smith is the daughter of a former assistant chief of the Elizabethton Police Department. She obtained her law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1977. She served as assistant district attorney general in the First Judicial District and the Second Judicial District for most of her career.

• Walton received his law degree from Memphis State University in 1975. He served as a captain in the Army during the Vietnam War After his service, he joined the Elizabethton law firm of Laws and Walton. He served as city attorney for the city of Elizabethton from 1982 to 1998. He was then elected judge of the Carter County General Sessions Court in 1998 and served until his retirement in 2014.

In discussing the candidates, most of the council members said it would be a difficult decision.

“It’s a small town and we know them,” said Wes Frazier.

Only Ken Birchfield said his mind was made up. He said Holly is his nephew and he must support him. City Attorney Roger Day said that was permissible as long as Birchfield states his relationship during the public discussion on the matter.

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