published Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Chattanooga area elections Tuesday are mixed bag

POLLS OPEN


Tennessee: Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Georgia: Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Election ballots across rural Southeast Tennessee have a mix of contested local races and questions as voters head to polls Tuesday.

Appointees in Bradley and Marion counties will defend their seats in Tuesday's primaries, while property assessors' seats will be contested on primary ballots in Bledsoe, Marion, McMinn, Meigs and Rhea counties.

There are no local races on Tuesday's Northwest Georgia ballots. but voters will be weighing in on their preferences for president.

DEFENDING SEATS

Bradley County voters will head to the polls in the Republican primary for former County Commissioner Howard Thompson's 4th District seat, where six candidates are vying.

Thompson resigned last year after being charged by state and local police with conspiracy to accept stolen goods at his flea market.

The County Commission appointed Cliff Eason to fill the vacancy until the election. Eason is the principal at Cleveland's Teen Learning Center, the city's alternative school. Two years are left in the term.

Tuesday's primary candidates are Eason; Charlotte Peak Jones, owner of K.A.C.E. Construction & Developments and Charlotte's Wallpaper; James Robert Peters, a former sheriff's office employee now employed with G4S Secure Solutions USA; Jim Smith, a former 4th District commissioner; Paul Bagley, retired from M&M Mars; and Paul Elrod, a retired surveyor, records show. There is no Democratic candidate.

Fifty miles to the west in Marion County, voters will pick from two candidates in Democratic primary races for county mayor.

John Graham, appointed to replace the late County Mayor David Kirk, faces challenger Mack Reeves in the Democratic primary for a spot on the August general election ballot.

Graham was serving his 15th year as road superintendent when he was appointed in December 2010 to fill Kirk's seat until the next county general election.

Reeves is the County Commission vice chairman and represents District 4.

The winner will face Republican candidate Gary Ellis to serve out the remaining two years of the term, records show.

PROPERTY ASSESSORS

There are two contested primaries in Bledsoe County's assessor of property race. Democratic contenders Stacey DeBord and Derek Forgey, and Republicans Jerry Hankins, Allen Nail and Ronnie Sapp will face off for spots on the general election ballot in August.

Marion County voters will choose between two candidates for assessor of property in the Democratic primary, Judy A. Brewer and Rick Carter, records show. There are no Republican candidates for the seat.

McMinn County voters will choose from six candidates for assessor of property in the Republican primary: Jerry Anderson, Margaret Stone Cheek, Jack Crittenden, Matt Goodin, Keith Price and Stephanie Womac Ring, records show. There are no Democratic candidates for the seat.

Voters in the Republican primary for assessor of property in Meigs County will pick from William C. "Billy" Breeden and Ronnie Jenkins, records show. The winner will face Democrat James Skipper Jackson in August.

And in Rhea County, voters will pick either Debbie Byrd or Andy Kelly in the Republican primary for assessor of property to face Democrat Kim Morgan Cranfill in August.

OTHER VOTES

Marion County voters will give a thumbs up or down on a wheel tax that would place a $25 tax on motorcycles and a $50 tax on automobiles. Meanwhile, Sequatchie County voters will have their say on a sales tax referendum to increase the rate from 9.25 percent to 9.75 percent, election records show.

Polk County voters have only one local contested race, pitting Harold Hood and Roy Thomason against each other in the Democratic primary for road superintendent.

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 ...

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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