published Thursday, December 1st, 2011

City election Saturday in Pikeville

Who do you support for Pikeville mayor?


There will be two voting booths available on the ground floor of the Bledsoe County Courthouse on Main Street. Polls hours are from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST Saturday.

Source: Bledsoe County Election Commission

Saturday's nonpartisan showdown for mayor of Pikeville, Tenn., will pit a former state representative against a two-term incumbent and a local resident who has run for city and county posts in the past.

Two-term city Mayor Greg Johnson, a Democrat and a member of the Bledsoe County Commission, will be challenged by former Republican state Rep. Eric H. Swafford, first elected to the state House in 2004, and occasional candidate Randy Sharp, whose name has been on the ballot for city and county seats a few times over the years, records show.

All three candidates point to jobs and business growth as primary concerns for Pikeville.

Sharp, a 47-year-old local contractor and Realtor, said he loves his town and wants to find ways to generate more revenue for it without putting more of a burden on taxpayers. He'll put his work experience to use, he said.

His opponents "are politicians, but I'm just an everyday, hard-working 'Joe' who wants to make a difference for all the people," he said.

Swafford, 38, said he brings experience in state government and business to the mayor's race.

He said the city suffers from overbudget spending that should not happen in the current economic climate.

"I'm the individual that can turn this city around," he said. "I know how to tighten budgets and operate within our means and at the same time to provide the services the citizens of Pikeville deserve."

Johnson said he brings to the race two terms of experience as mayor and a record of being hard working, honest and a conservative steward of Pikeville's tax dollars.

The city's purchase of the old Dura Automotive plant was an investment in future jobs, not "overspending," he said in response to Swafford.

Johnson said the city received more than $15 million in grants for infrastructure updates and downtown revitalization during his eight years as mayor.

In Pikeville's Board of Aldermen race, incumbents Senia Anderson, Reed Sells and Bill Swearingen will face challengers Nancy Cagle, Philip "Winky" Cagle and Jarrod Thurman, records show.

Voter interest initially was low, but elections administrator Lisa Wheeler said Tuesday that voters appear to be paying equal attention to both races.

"We've had 213 [people who have] early voted," Wheeler said of the opportunity that ended Monday.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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