Chuck Harris apparently unseats incumbent Catoosa County Commissioner Bobby Winters [photos]

Chuck Harris apparently unseats incumbent Catoosa County Commissioner Bobby Winters [photos]

May 22nd, 2018 by Rosana Hughes in Breaking News

Chuck Harris, a candidate for District 2 commissioner, speaks during a forum hosted by the Catoosa County Republican Party at the Boynton Voting Precinct in April, 2018. Harris defeated incumbent Bobby Winters.

Photo by C.B. Schmelter

This story was updated May 22, 2018, at 11:23 p.m. with more information.

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Bobby Winters

Bobby Winters

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Challenger Chuck Harris won the Catoosa County Commission District 2 race by eight votes, possibly unseating longtime incumbent Bobby Winters, according to unofficial election results Tuesday.

Tonya Moore, director of the Catoosa County Elections and Registration Department, said she will know Wednesday if county code calls for a recount. 

District 2 is a smaller district in the northwest part of the county, encompassing the Boynton community and the area around Cloud Springs Road.

Winters first took office in 2002, the longest term of any active commissioner.

Tuesday night, the soft-spoken Winters had nothing to say about the outcome other than, "It's been 16 years. I guess that's enough."

Harris could not be reached for comment.

During his campaign, Harris, who sells medical equipment, lobbied for business development and better infrastructure, adding that he thinks there are too many traffic jams because elected officials didn't think through whether they needed to change the roads before signing off on developments.

Harris also stressed the importance of local government's support of education.

In District 4, Charlie Stephens, who runs a garbage collection company, unseated incumbent Ray Johnson, who has been in office since 2015.

District 4 includes almost the entire eastern half of the county.

Charlie Stephens, a candidate for District 4 commissioner, speaks during a forum hosted by the Catoosa County Republican Party at the Boynton Voting Precinct in April 2018. Stephens defeated incumbent Ray Johnson.

Charlie Stephens, a candidate for District 4 commissioner,...

Photo by C.B. Schmelter

"I haven't really processed it yet," Stephens said Tuesday night. "I'm thankful to have the opportunity to run and I'm thankful that the people chose me and I'm looking to bring my mindset and business skills to the county — trying to help the people of the county."

He said he thinks his honesty and integrity got him the win.

Stephens also pushed business and higher employment rates during his campaign, though he stumbled when asked at a candidate forum about how he planned to attract businesses without incentives. He later told the audience that business recruitment comes down to relationships and infrastructure, saying he wants the county to invest more in paving roads.

He also stressed the importance of transparency and accountability. He said he planned on holding a town hall meeting every quarter in a District 4 community.

On the Board of Education, District 4, the only challenged race, went to incumbent David Moeller. He won by 129 votes.

School board member Jack Sims saw no opposition in the District 2 race.

Doug Woodruff, State Court solicitor, and Ron Goulart, State Court judge, were also unopposed.

Throughout the day, some voters encountered a little hiccup with the machines at the polls.

Moore, elections department director, said some machines were timing out after voters selected the "large text" option, making the 11-page ballot increase to an 18-page ballot.

Tuesday night's victors will take office in January because no Democrats filed to run in this election.

Nearly 1,500 more voters turned out this year than in 2014's primary election.

County commissioners are paid $12,978 a year, with the chairman getting $14,153.

School board members are paid $250 a month.

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.