Rhea County primary an opening act for 'exciting' August

Rhea County primary an opening act for 'exciting' August

March 20th, 2014 by Tim Omarzu in Local Regional News

George Thacker

George Thacker

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one in a series of stories about contested races in the May 6 county primaries.

Rhea County, Tenn., voters can look forward to an exciting election at the county level - in August.

That's when June Griffin, a perennial candidate and political crusader who describes the United Nations as the "antichrist" and calls the Internal Revenue Service "the citadel of thievery," is expected to run for county executive. Griffin is one of four candidates, including incumbent County Executive George Thacker, who picked up election petitions that are due back by April 3.

Because the county executive position is nonpartisan, that office won't be up for vote until the Aug. 7 general election.

"Our August race is going to be the exciting one," county Deputy Administrator of Elections Felicia Mills said.

Meanwhile, the May 6 primary has only one contested race at the local level: Two Democrats, incumbent Jamie Holloway of Spring City, Tenn., and Cheryl Cashman, of Dayton, Tenn., will battle for the Rhea County Circuit Court Clerk. The winner will face Pam Peaveyhouse, a Dayton Republican, on Aug. 7.

Holloway, who served four years in the U.S. Navy and 10 years as a Tennessee Highway patrolman, said his life has been dedicated to public service, and he's made improvements since being elected in 2010 as county Circuit Court clerk.

"We've made quite a few technology changes since I've been in office to try to save time and save money," he said.

Cashman, who works as an administrative assistant for the Red Bank Police Department, ran unsuccessfully against Holloway in 2010. She had worked for 18 years in the Rhea County Circuit Clerk's Office, most recently as chief deputy clerk. But Holloway terminated her on Sept. 1, 2010, the day he took office.

"I just want to get back to my hometown," Cashman said of Dayton, where she's lived for close to 27 years. "It is my passion to serve the public. The only promise that I can make is, I want to do the best job I can for the people of Rhea County."

It looked for a while as if incumbent Rhea County Sheriff Mike Neal, a Democrat, would face a challenge from Jerry Lawrence, a Republican. But Lawrence was removed from the ballot in late February because he didn't file the required paperwork in time with the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission.

"He did not qualify with POST, so he did not make the ballot," Mills said.

The Rhea County ballot will have a contest at the state level: incumbent Republican District 31 state Rep. Ron Travis, of Dayton, faces a challenge from Republican Jim Cobb, of Spring City, who previously held the seat.

The two Republicans faced each other in the 2012 primary, which Travis won. That race made headlines when Cobb turned himself in at the Rhea County Jail on Oct. 3, 2012, after Sue Goins, a Travis supporter, accused Cobb of assaulting her as she sat outside a polling place at Frazier Elementary School in Dayton.

Goins feared "imminent bodily injury," according to a Rhea County Sheriff's Office report, when Cobb got out of his pickup truck and allegedly attempted to knock down a Travis sign.

A Rhea County Circuit Court jury found Cobb not guilty of misdemeanor assault on Nov. 14, 2012, after deliberating for about an hour, according to Times Free Press archives. Cobb called Goins' charges "politically motivated," and said there was no physical contact or harsh words spoken toward Goins.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.