Republicans to decide most Bradley County, Tenn., primary races

Republicans to decide most Bradley County, Tenn., primary races

February 16th, 2018 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Freida McClure, left, and Fred Linkous vote at the Bradley County Election Commission in this file photo.

Photo by Gillian Bolsover

UPDATE: On Friday, the Bradley County Elections Office issued a revised qualifying candidate list which included Republican Tommy Ledford, who seeks election to District 6, Seat B on the Bradley County Commission. 


ORIGINAL STORY: CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Republican primary voters will decide nearly every Bradley County seat up for election on May 1.

The contested races include battles for sheriff, circuit court clerk and several constable and Bradley County Commission seats, based on candidates who qualified by the Feb. 15 noon deadline. The sole qualifying Democrat seeks a commission seat in District 7.

Voters will go about it a little differently when it comes to electing the two commissioners allotted to each of the county's seven districts this time around.

For decades, commission candidates threw their hats into district-wide free-for-alls in which the top two vote-getters won. Now they fight for specific seats within each district, meaning challengers can decide which incumbents they want to oppose.

"You have to have an open mind about it," Commission Vice Chairman Jeff Yarber said in a recent phone interview.

Yarber has long championed seat-based commissioner elections, and last summer his colleagues voted 8-6 in favor of legislation he sponsored to make it happen for the 2018 election cycle.

The old way discouraged people from casting votes for two commission candidates because they feared hurting the chances of their top choice, Yarber said. He described the practice as "single-shotting."

"This way people will use both their votes," he said.

Commissioner Howard Thompson, who voted against Yarber's election measure, still opposes it.

"I never understood changing the way we've been doing things for the last 40 or 50 years," Thompson said. "It's the way all the current commissioners got into office. Politically, [seat elections] can hurt you."

Eight of the Bradley County Commission's incumbents face no challengers, but five of the seven districts have at least one contested seat. Of the six contested seats, four involve commissioners seeking re-election, while departing commissioners left two seats up for grabs.

Rick Bise competes against Dennis Epperson for District 1, Seat A, left open by Commissioner Terry Caywood, who did not seek re-election.

Commissioner Mark Hall, now pursuing the Tennessee District 24 state representative seat, will vacate District 7, Seat A. Republicans Kevin Raper and Joshua Rogers vie for the open spot, with the winner facing Tammy Davis, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

In District 4, Commissioner Charlotte Peak faces challenger Alex Morrow for Seat A.

Commissioner Bobby Goins and challenger Jerry Cross both seek District 5, Seat A.

Commissioners Dan Rawls and Keith Rominger face opponents for their District 6 seats. Tim Mason challenges Rawls for Seat A, while Erica Davis wants to take Seat B from Rominger.

All seven of Bradley County's constables are seeking re-election, with three facing opponents.

In District 1, Jeffery Lewis has challenged incumbent Garry D. Moore.

Richard Alford, constable for District 2, competes against Jimmy Kendrick Jr.

The District 6 constable race is a three-way fight among Tim Colbaugh, Rob Jensen and incumbent Dewayne Hicks.

In the contested countywide races, incumbent Eric Watson faces challenger Steve Lawson in the sheriff's race and Jeff Young seeks to take the circuit court clerk seat from Gayla Miller.

Qualifying candidates have until noon on Feb. 22 to withdraw. The Bradley County Election Commission is expected to verify candidates and approve the May 1 ballot on Feb 26.

Early voting begins April 11.

Contact Paul Leach at Follow him on Twitter @pleach_3.