Tuesday is Election Day for Sullivan County party primaries

J. H. Osborne • Apr 30, 2018 at 1:54 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Almost every major office in Sullivan County government is on the ballot for the county’s general election in August. The lead in to that: party primaries on Tuesday — when several races will be decided in the Republican Party primary, rather than the election in August.

Polls are open Tuesday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Voters must go to their assigned precinct to cast ballots on Election Day. If you do not know your precinct, you may look it up online at www.scelect.org.

About voting:

• A photo ID issued by the state of Tennessee or the federal government is required to vote.

• Under state law, no one may enter a polling place except election officials, voters, persons properly assisting voters (candidates cannot provide assistance), the press, duly appointed poll watchers or anyone granted permission by the election commission.

• State law also prohibits the display of campaign materials, placement of campaign signs or solicitation of votes within 100 feet of the entrances to each voting precinct. A voter may bring a sample ballot or other literature to the voting booth as long as it is not visible to other voters in the polling place or within the 100-foot boundary.

• State law prohibits using a mobile communication device to place a call, take a photograph or record within a polling place. Voters can use their device to access the internet or to send or receive text messages.

• State law directs that only a voter who is illiterate, physical disabled or blind may receive assistance with voting. The voter may be accompanied by the individual they have selected to provide the assistance or two election officials will jointly provide the assistance. Prior to the assistance being provided, both the voter and the individuals providing assistance must sign an affidavit affirming that they meet one of the three conditions for assistance. A candidate is prohibited from assisting any voter. A voter who is physically disabled, visibly pregnant or frail may request to be advanced to the front of the line if one exists.

• For the primaries, voters will have many more choices if they cast a ballot in the Republican primary. There are 70 candidates on the Republican primary ballot seeking the party’s nomination to run in 21 races countywide. Because you will see only your single county commission race when you go into the voting booth, if you vote in the Republican primary you will see choices in 11 races. There are five candidates on the Democratic primary ballot seeking the party’s nomination to run in four of the 21 races countywide. Because you will see only your single county commissioner district, if you vote in the  Democratic primary you will see choices in two races.

Change is certain

More longtime officeholders have chosen not to seek re-election this year than in any year in recent memory.

County Trustee Frances Harrell, County Clerk Jeanie Gammon, Circuit Court Clerk Tommy Kerns and Property Assessor Russell Baker have all decided against seeking re-election, opening up a wide field of candidates for the upcoming four-year terms for those constitutional offices. In addition, of 24 Sullivan County Commission seats — all of which are up for election this year — eight are certain to go to newcomers (or retreads from commissions of the past). Commissioner Bryan Boyd (District 2); Commissioner Dennis Houser (District 4); Commissioner Andy Hare (District 5); Commissioner Eddie Williams (District 8), chairman of the county’s Budget Committee; and Commissioner Joe Herron (District 11) have all chosen not to seek re-election to another four-year term. In addition, three other commissioners are not running to hold on to their commission district seats because they are instead seeking one of the “open” constitutional offices. They include: Commissioner Cheryl Russell (District 2), who is seeking the GOP nomination to run for county clerk; Commissioner Matthew Johnson (District 6), who is seeking the GOP nomination to run for county trustee; and Commissioner Bobby Russell (District 9), who is seeking the GOP nomination to run for Circuit Court clerk.

Pretty much over

For four offices, incumbents were the only ones to file petitions seeking the offices this year: Circuit Court Judge (Part II) William K. Rogers (R); Register of Deeds Sheena Ramsey Tinsley (R); County Attorney Dan Street (R); and County Commissioner Randy Morrell (District 1, R).


County Mayor Richard Venable is unchallenged in the GOP primary but will have competition on the ballot in August from independent candidate Gerald L. Sensabaugh Jr.

Three people are vying for the GOP nomination for assessor of property: Brian Malone; Jack L. Ryan; and Donna K. Whitaker. The winner will face independent Jerry M. Sorrell in August.

Sheriff Wayne Anderson has two challengers for the GOP nomination: Matt Austin and Joe Earles. Whoever wins the party primary will face independent Jeff Cassidy in August.

Godsey wanted off ballot

Four people filed to seek the GOP nomination to run for county clerk: Howard “Sunny” Baker; former Mayor Steve Godsey; Deputy County Clerk Teresa L. Jacobs; and Commissioner Cheryl Russell. Godsey’s name remains on the ballot, but he sought to have it removed, Sullivan County Administrator of Elections Jason Booher told the Tmes News in answer to questions from the newspaper. Booher said Godsey’s request to be taken off the ballot came after a legal deadline to make such a change. Godsey has filed campaign documents indicating he has not raised or spent any money and also did not respond to a candidate Q&A request from the Times News. Whichever of the GOP candidates wins Tuesday’s primary will in August face Deputy County Clerk Jane Davis, who has no opposition in the Democratic primary on Tuesday.

Several races will be decided in the Republican Party primary on Tuesday: county trustee; circuit court clerk; commissioner of highways; county commission District 3; county commission District 9; and county commission District 10. No Democratic or independent candidates filed for those races.

Republican hopefuls for county trustee include: Terri Miller Hurd; Matthew Jerry Johnson; Susan Arnold Ramsey; Angela Taylor; and Jack Young.

Republican hopefuls for Circuit Court clerk include: Bruce A. Bullis; Karen Forgety; Lionel J. Mallicote; Bobby L. Russell; and Travis Ward.

In the District 3 commission race, with one seat available, those who filed for the GOP primary include: incumbent Bob Neal; and Andrew K. Cross.

In the District 9 commission race, with two seats available, those who filed for the GOP primary include: incumbent Commissioner Kit McGlothlin; Kingsport Alderman Colette George; and Doug Woods.

In the District 10 commission race, with two seats available, those who filed for the GOP primary include: incumbent Commissioners Larry Crawford and Bill Kilgore; Jim DeVault; Tim Sanders; and Gary Stidham.



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