Campaign letter sparks concern in Sullivan

J. H. Osborne • Apr 13, 2018 at 12:50 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County Trustee Frances Harrell said her offices were inundated Thursday with telephone calls from property owners on the state’s tax relief program for the elderly and/or disabled, apparently due to a campaign letter from one of the five Republicans seeking to become the next trustee.

Harrell is not seeking re-election in this year’s county general election in August. No Democrats or independent candidates are seeking the job, so it will be decided by voters in the May 1 Republican Party Primary, in which five candidates are running.

“We’ve gotten a lot of upset elderly people calling in today,” Harrell said. “It’s been almost non-stop. The letter got them worried that their personal information had been somehow shared by us in order for them to have gotten such a letter. My office had nothing to do with the letter. The information — the names and addresses of those on the state’s relief program — did not come from my office. I don’t have the ability in my office to give out the names and addresses of people on the program.”

Harrell said she had not seen the letter in question, but callers said it came from one of the five GOP candidates and it included a telephone number to call the candidate.

About 3,500 property owners qualify and receive rebates through the state’s property tax relief program, Harrell said.

Many of the calls coming into her office Thursday were from elderly participants and their biggest concern was that their private information could have been compromised, Harrell said.

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