Newcomers take seats on Elizabethton City Council, School Board

John Thompson • Updated Nov 6, 2018 at 11:28 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Two newcomers won seats on the Elizabethton City Council while two newcomers joined the Board of Education in Tuesday’s municipal elections.

Newcomers Eddie Pless and Danny O’Quinn took both the contested seats on the school board, turning out board members Tyler Fleming and Susan Peters.

In the City Council election, newcomers Richard Barker and Michael Simerly were elected along with incumbents Bill Carter and Wes Frazier. Incumbent Richard Tester was not returned for another term. Sam Shipley is also not returning, after choosing not to run for another term because of health problems.

Both races were held at large. Incumbent Mayor Pro Term Carter was the leading vote getter, with 2,623 votes. Barker was only two votes behind at 2,621 votes. Simerly finished third with 2,345 votes and Frazier was fourth with 2,162 votes. Tester finished fifth in the contest for four seats with 1,825 votes.

Pless was the leading vote getter in the school board race, getting 2,536 votes. O’Quinn got the second seat with 1,989 votes. Incumbents Peters failed to keep her seat, receiving 1,335 votes. Incumbent Fleming finished last with 1,270 votes

Both Pless and O’Quinn are veteran educators who served in the school system for most of their careers. Both men are now working in the Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Elizabethton.

Pless was recently involved in controversy when he was removed from his post as co-director of athletics at Elizabethton High School. Director of Schools Corey Gardenhour cited failure to follow policy on financial matters for the action.

After his win on Tuesday, Pless said, “I just want to be a good school board member. I have worked for this system for many years and I want to do my best for it.”

Pless and O’Quinn placed their names together on election signs, but Pless said he and O’Quinn ran separate campaigns and they had different ideas on some matters.

In the City Council race, Carter thanked the voters for allowing him to serve another term and to be the leading vote getter.

He celebrated the election returns with Simerly, who was more vocal about the result.

“I am very honored and I am so excited,” Simerly said. “I have always tried to be active in every community where I have lived, but this is the first time I have ever run in an election.”

Simerly said he is not the first member of his family to be elected to an office in Carter County. He said the first member of his family to be elected in Carter County was Conley T. “Red” Simerly, who was elected Carter County judge. He was the last person to hold that title in Carter County. He was succeeded by Truman Clark, who took the title of county executive. The position is now called county mayor.

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