Sequatchie's ballot in August a free-for-all

Sequatchie's ballot in August a free-for-all

Sheriff, road superintendent likely hottest races

June 24th, 2018 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

A woman votes on May 1 during primary elections in the gym at East Ridge City Hall. Sequatchie County predicts high voter turnout for its upcoming election.

Photo by Erin O. Smith

KEY DATES FOR VOTERS

› July 3: Last day to register to vote

› July 13: First day of early voting

› July 26: Last day to receive an application for a by-mail ballot

› July 28: Last day of early voting

› Aug. 2: Election day

Voters can register at the election commission office or online at Vote.org or GoVoteTN.com

Source: Sequatchie County Election Commission, Tennessee Secretary of State

OTHER RACES

In Sequatchie’s other races, County Executive D. Keith Cartwright is seeking to hold his seat for a second term in a tilt with Greg Griffith. Another longtime seat holder, Circuit Court Clerk Karen L. Millsaps, will be challenged in her re-election bid by two hopeful candidates, Lynn Harmon and Rhonda Rheal. And, longtime Trustee Larry S. Lockhart will face challenger Rusty Cheathem.

Most county commission districts have contested races with the exception of districts 2, 3 and 9. The top two vote-getters in each district race will take the seats.

› In District 1, incumbents Richard E. Harvey and Chester Shell face challengers Jason E. Harvey and Gary Williams.

› In District 4, current occupants of the seats Ronnie Land and Roy Edward (Ed) Nunley will battle with challenger Joyce Dotson to keep their posts.

› In District 5, incumbents Jeff Barger and Paul D. Powell are challenged by Bryan Cordell and Randall F. Phillips Sr.

› In District 6, seat holders David L. Cartwright and Terry Wayne Dishman will face a challenge from candidate Kay Minton.

› In District 7, incumbents Clint Huth and Ray Hobbs will try to hold off challenger Charlie Rollins.

› In District 8, seat holders Wayne Clemons and Tommy Johnson face a challenge from candidate David Hudson Jr.

There is only one contested race for a Sequatchie County Board of Education seat in August vacated by longtime member W.O. Johnson, who first won the school board post in 1992. The August ballot will have two hopeful candidates vying for the vacancy, Debbie Jones Adams and Andrew Johnson, grandson of the former seat holder.

Since Sequatchie County, Tennessee elections are nonpartisan and the county holds no local primaries, the August general election ballot has some local races in a free-for-all for several important posts.

The election will decide races for sheriff, county executive, county commission, circuit court clerk, trustee, road superintendent and school board.

The hottest race will be for sheriff now that longtime Sheriff Ronnie Hitchcock has announced he won't seek a fifth term. There's also a five-way battle for road superintendent, said Jerrie Hickey, Sequatchie County administrator of elections. Hitchcock first won the sheriff's post in 2002.

Those races are the two most talked-about contests among Sequatchie voters, Hickey said.

"Everyone has their candidates that they're supporting," she said.

The ballot will feature four men seeking the vacant post: William H. Barker, Paul (Thomas) Mahoney II, Bill Phillips and Coy M. Swanger, election records show. Each has a website touting their qualifications and experience.

Barker has worked in state, federal and local law enforcement and is an investigator with the Monteagle Police Department. Mahoney is a current Dunlap police officer who has worked for law enforcement agencies in Hamilton, Rhea and Sequatchie counties and has been a Sequatchie County constable. Both have challenged in the past but were defeated by Hitchcock in his re-election bids.

Newcomers to the sheriff's race are Phillips, a retired 28-year veteran Chattanooga Police Department investigator, and Swanger, a former Sequatchie County deputy, longtime Dunlap police officer and now a lieutenant at the department.

Incumbent Road Superintendent Tommy Sims is seeking another term and will face a near-fistful of challengers on the ballot, including Shawn Cordell, Steve Harmon, Eric D. Higgins and Anthony "Tony" Roberson.

There's also a surprise race for 12th Judicial District chancellor with the sudden resignation this month of longtime incumbent, Jeffrey F. Stewart. The winner in August will serve out the unexpired term that ends in 2022.

Stewart, whose resignation was effective June 8, submitted a notice of retirement to the Administrative Office of the Courts received on June 4 that was addressed to Gov. Bill Haslam.

"It is the ravages of age, time, stress and health that has brought me to this abrupt ending," Stewart states in the notice.

"I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support for and understanding of the importance of a strong independent Judiciary," Stewart said. "It has been a pleasure to serve during your tenure as Governor of our State."

Qualifying ended Monday for that vacancy with two candidates making the ballots in 12th Judicial District counties of Bledsoe, Franklin, Grundy, Marion, Rhea and Sequatchie, officials said. Republican Missy Thomas Blevins, of Marion County, has entered the fray, and David Stewart, of Franklin County, qualified as an independent.

Wednesday was the deadline to withdraw from the race.

The situation caused two ballots to be issued for some voters, Hickey said. The first ballots were sent out Monday to military and overseas citizens before candidates Blevins and Stewart qualified, so the ballot lacked their names. Their names will be added to a second ballot issued this week to those voters, she said.

Hickey predicts a "huge" voter turnout of as much as a 50 percent or more. Sequatchie County has 9,944 registered voters.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.


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