McMinn primary likely to decide mayor

McMinn primary likely to decide mayor

March 22nd, 2014 by David Cobb in Local Regional News

Contested primaries in McMinn County:

County Mayor

Charles "Tracy" Carter

John Gentry

Kelly Shepherd


Joe Guy

Tim Smith

County Commission, 1st District

(two county commissioners are elected from each district)

Brent Carter

Brian Howard

Bob Powers

Tracey Simpson

County Commission, 2nd District

J.W. McPhall

Jerry Millsaps

Curt Vincent

Donna Wattenbarger

L. Mark Workman

County Commission, 3rd District

Tim King

Roger Masingale

County Commission, 4th District

Dale Holbrook

Charles Slack

Shan Wallace

County Commission, 5th District

David Crews

Scott Curtis

Carey Lowery

Assessor of Property

Bobby Case

Johnny Johnson

Susie Lee

Keith Price

Highway Commissioner

Dan Evans

Carl Mashburn

District Attorney General, 10th Judicial District

Steve Crump

Stephen Hatchett

Constable, 3rd District

Amos Brock

Richard Raper

Circuit Court Judge, 10th Judicial District Part III

William Brown

Andrew Freiberg

Chal Thompson

Criminal Court Judge, 10th Judicial District

Sandra Donaghy

Van Irion

Barring an unlikely late campaign by a write-in candidate, the McMinn County, Tenn., mayor and sheriff's races will be decided on May 6 in the primary election.

Three Republican candidates are competing for the county mayor position, including the incumbent, John Gentry. A pair of Republicans is vying for the sheriff position, including incumbent Joe Guy.

No Democrats are on the ballot for either position.

A challenger to Gentry for county mayor is lifelong McMinn County resident Kelly Shepherd, who is running under the slogan "for change, jobs and future" as he seeks to inject the principles learned through a business career into his first political foray and bring jobs to McMinn County.

"That's my main issue," Shepherd said. "I know it's going to be a tough road, but I want to get jobs in here."

Shepherd, 69, is a veteran of the local family oil business started by his father, named Kelly Shepherd & Sons.

Gentry, 46, is vying for re-election to a fourth term after what he considers a successful push through the economic recession and a fiscally responsible effort by the county government to facilitate an economy welcoming to industry and development.

"I think we're known best for our financial management," Gentry said.

He added that McMinn County property tax rates are now among the best in the state, and he said it is the only debt-free county in the state.

"Government does not create jobs," Gentry said. "The private sector creates jobs. What we try and do is create an environment where the private sector can flourish, and that's what we've done."

Charles "Tracy" Carter is also on the primary ballot as a Republican mayoral candidate. He is proposing a more dynamic economic plan to attract businesses.

"To actually attract jobs you've got to offer incentives and offer things in your county, and that requires spending money," Carter said. "It's economics 101."

In the sheriff's race, Guy is up against Tim Smith, a former McMinn County chief deputy with 22 years of experience in various law enforcement roles within the county. Smith was with the McMinn County Sheriff's Department from 1994 to 2010. His campaign focus is on increasing the McMinn County clearance rate, which is essentially a measure of the number of crimes solved.

Guy, who is seeking a second term as sheriff, said he is proud of the work the sheriff's department has done to reduce meth usage -- and crime in general -- in McMinn County over the last four years. He said a strategy is being developed to address burglaries and thefts in the county over the next four years.

On the Democratic side, only four candidates are running in the primaries for the 26 positions on the ballot, and none of the four are facing competition. By contrast, 49 are competing in the Republican primaries and creating 13 contested primaries.

All five of the County Commission primaries are contested primaries on the Republican side. No Democrats are vying for County Commission seats.

Early voting begins April 16 at the McMinn County Election Commission Office.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at or 423-757-6731.