Southeast Tennessee rural voters have ballot of alcohol referendums mixed with contested local races

Voters cast their ballots during early voting at the Hamilton County Election Commission on Amnicola Highway.

Once they get past the presidential, state and federal offices on the ballot, voters in most of Southeast Tennessee's rural counties will pick city and county leaders, and some will decide whether to allow consumption and sales of alcohol.

Folks in Bledsoe, Franklin, Grundy, Marion, McMinn, Polk and Rhea counties will see contested races for government posts while local ballots in Bradley, Meigs and Sequatchie have no opposed races or no local races at all, election records show.

Contested county commission seats are up for grabs in Franklin and Marion, and an unexpired Bledsoe County Board of Education seat is on the ballot there.

There will be contested municipal elections in Monteagle for mayor and two alderman seats that will appear on ballots in Franklin, Grundy and Marion, the counties that split the mountaintop town three ways.

Other city elections will be held in Marion County for Jasper mayor and two alderman seats; South Pittsburg mayor and two alderman seats, and three Whitwell City Commission seats. In McMinn County, voters will pick two Athens City Council seats. And in Rhea County, voters will pick the Graysville mayor and four commissioners.


Several municipal races in Southeast Tennessee lack candidates.

Grundy County, one of the smallest counties in the region, has city races on the ballot in Coalmont and Palmer that didn't draw enough candidates to fill open seats.

In Coalmont, just one candidate is seeking two open alderman seats, and Palmer drew no candidates for two alderman seats or for the unexpired term of another alderman seat, records show.

Grundy County Administrator of Elections Donna Basham said the situation has come up before in Grundy, but not in two towns in the same election.

Basham said write-in candidates are vying for the open slots.

The lack of candidates hasn't hampered voter interest, she said.

"We've had over 2,200 early vote, and that doesn't sound like a lot, but we only have 7,700 registered voters," Basham said. "In 2008, we had a lot to vote early and there was about 1,650 voted then. We've surpassed that already."

In Marion County, no one is seeking an unexpired alderman seat in New Hope, and in the McMinn County town of Niota, only two candidates are seeking three open City Commission seats, records show.

A similar situation exists in the Polk County town of Copperhill, where there are just two candidates for three open City Commission seats.

Municipalities' governing rules - called a charter - offer solutions for empty posts, according to Adam Ghassemi, spokesman for the Tennessee Secretary of State's office.

"For municipal elections, if no one is running (assuming there are no certified write-ins who received a vote) a vacancy would exist and the vacancy would be filled according to the local charter," Ghassemi said via email. Most charters allow appointments by the governing body.


Also on the ballot, retail wine sales referendums go before voters in Dayton, Jasper and Kimball. Residents of those towns will decide whether to allow the sale of wine in food stores.

Elsewhere, Polk County voters will weigh in on countywide, on-premises alcohol consumption and package stores, and Tracy City voters in Grundy County will decide whether they want to allow on-premises consumption of alcohol, records show.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569.


Listed below are contested local government races and referendums across Southeast Tennessee's rural counties. Uncontested races are not shown.Bledsoe CountySchool Board, 1st District, Part B (unexpired independent seat)Vote for oneKay CookeJacob FradyRobbie TaylorJamie WyattFranklin CountyCounty Commission, District 8, Seat B (unexpired seat)Vote for oneRepublicanSam HilesDemocratDale AmacherMonteagle MayorVote for one (independent seat)Marilyn Campbell-RodmanAlexander "Lex" OrrDavid SampleyMonteagle AldermanVote for two (independent seats)Jessica D. BlalockKenneth Wayne GipsonHarry ParmleyAlvin Powell Jr.Grundy CountyMonteagle MayorVote for one (independent seats)Marilyn Campbell-RodmanAlexander "Lex" OrrDavid SampleyMonteagle AldermanVote for two (independent seats)Jessica D. BlalockKenneth Wayne GipsonHarry ParmleyAlvin Powell Jr.ReferendumsTracy CitySale of alcohol for on-premises consumptionYesNoMarion CountyCounty Commission, 5th District, Seat BVote for one (unexpired seat)Democrat Ralph PickettIndependent Ken (Penny) SkilesJasper MayorVote for one (independent seat)Paul Wayne EvansBilly SimpsonJasper AldermanVote for two (independent seats)Josh JenningsJason TurnerPaul WestJasper ReferendumWine sales in retail food storesYesNoKimball ReferendumWine sales in retail food storesYesNoMonteagle MayorVote for one (independent seat)Marilyn Campbell-RodmanAlexander "Lex" OrrDavid SampleyMonteagle AldermanVote for two (independent seats)Jessica D. BlalockKenneth Wayne GipsonHarry ParmleyAlvin Powell Jr.South Pittsburg MayorVote for one (independent seat)Jane W. DawkinsVirgil HolderBill StuartSouth Pittsburg City Commission, 1st DistrictVote for one (independent seat)Jimmy Paul Haley Jr.Jimmy WigfallSouth Pittsburg City Commission, 2nd DistrictVote for one (independent seat)Ray PowersSamantha B. RectorWhitwell City CommissionVote for three (independent seats)Steve AttertonHerman Wade BrownPolly CopelandSandra Powell CrabtreeMike DillonMarilyn Tate FrazierChris L. MorrisonJimmy W. NunleyTerry (Fuzz) ParkerMcMinn CountyAthens City Council (independent seats)Vote for twoChuck BurrisWhitney Kimball CoeJohn CokerJordan CurtisTim HughesPolk CountyReferendum (county-wide)Sale of alcohol for on-premises consumptionYesNoRetail package storesYesNoBenton City CommissionVote or two (independent seats)Joe JenkinsGary McDonaldGene PackCopperhill Mayor (independent seat)Billy BrackettJerry GilliamKathy A. StewartRhea CountyReferendumDaytonWine sales at retail food storesYesNoGraysville MayorVote for one (independent seat)Robbie DavenportTed DossGraysville CommissionVote for four (independent seats)Robert (Bobby) BaldwinAndy BeeneJimmy Lee MassengillMichael MayDeNesa ReelRon ScottDavid SulcerSource: Tennessee Secretary of State, local election commissions