EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one in a series of stories on contested races in area county primary elections.
CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Three out of seven of the Bradley County Commission's two-seat district races will be settled in the Republican primary.
While the relative number of Republican and Democrat candidates -- 26 and four, respectively -- is not unusual, the loss of five out of the 14 members who now hold seats on the body has made some impact, said Mimi Angel, assistant elections administrator for Bradley County.
"Five incumbents are not seeking re-election, and that generates more interest when there are fewer incumbents in the races," Angel said.
The 1st, 2nd and 4th district races, which feature only one incumbent each, will be decided May 6 in the Republican primary. Four candidates are competing in each of those districts.
The 1st District Republican primary, which features incumbent Terry Caywood, Denis L. Collins, Tom Collins and Mike Hughes, has already rippled the political landscape beyond the Bradley County Commission.
Tom Collins, who has served as the Bradley County road superintendent for 16 years, announced he would not seek re-election to the position so he could pursue a county commission seat.
Bradley County Engineer Sandra Knight has taken leave from her position to run for road superintendent against James "Edd" Lewis in the Republican primary. No Democrat seeks the position.
In the 2nd District Republican primary, incumbent Louie Alford, who is chairman of the County Commission, faces John Burns, Thomas L. Crye and Tammy Wingo-Salmond.
The Republican primary for the 4th District pits incumbent Charlotte Peak-Jones, June Montgomery, Carol "Peaches" Searles and Howard Thompson.
Thompson, who served more than 16 years on the County Commission, resigned in May 2011, a day before he pleaded guilty to one count of attempted theft greater than $1,000 and less than $10,000. He was accused of receiving stolen goods at his Highway 64 flea market.
"I'm running again because I was able to help a lot of people while in office," Thompson said previously. "I've received support from people who seemed to like the work I did."
Incumbents Mel Griffith and Robert Rominger face John Cochran, Ronny E. Keller, Tom D. Ledford and Dan Rawls in the Republican primary for the 6th District. Democrat E. J. Laughter is also running for a 6th District seat.
The 5th District Republican primary candidates are incumbent Jeff Yarber, Briant K. Berry, Bobby Goins and Floyd Wade Jr. Jack Burke is the sole Democrat seeking a 5th District seat.
The candidates in the 3rd and 7th district primaries are fewer in number.
Republicans Milan M. Blake and Johnny Mull will compete for 3rd District seats along with incumbent Jeff Morelock, a Democrat, in the general election.
Incumbents Bill Winters and Mark Hall, both incumbents, will compete for 7th District seats with Democrat Pam Edgemon.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at email@example.com.