Candidates crowd ballot for Hawkins primary

Jeff Bobo • Feb 20, 2014 at 8:40 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County voters will have plenty of choices in the May 6 primary, with nearly every elected office being contested.

The deadline to qualify for candidacy in the primary election passed Thursday at noon with 80 candidates seeking 30 elected seats.

This year’s county elections fall within the eight-year cycle when the Third Judicial District judges, attorney general and public defender are also on the ballot for eight-year terms.

The only four-year Hawkins County elected office that isn’t on the ballot this year is the property assessor, which doesn’t come back up for election until 2016.

Among this year’s biggest surprises may be the Sessions Court judge race in which Republican incumbent J. Todd Ross is unopposed, but there is a rare contested race for the Democratic nomination between Terry Risner and Carroll Christopher “Chris” Raines Jr.

The Sessions judge seat has an eight-year term.

Risner and Raines have both run for Sessions judge unsuccessfully in the past — Risner in 2012 and Raines in 2006, and both currently serve as municipal judges — Risner in Mount Carmel and Raines in Surgoinsville.

Another surprise was the addition to the ballot Thursday of Surgoinsville Mayor Johnny Greer in the Hawkins County mayor race.

A Democrat, Greer will be unopposed in the primary and will take on the winner of the Republic nomination which is being sought by incumbent Melville Bailey, Church Hill Mayor Dennis Deal and Rogersville businessman Kelly Markham.

Among the uncontested county/judicial candidates are Sheriff Ronnie Lawson; Juvenile Judge Daniel Boyd (8 years); Highway Superintendent Lowell Bean; Chancellor Doug Jenkins (8 years); Circuit Judge Thomas Wright (8 years); Circuit Judge Mike Faulk (8 years); Criminal Judge John Dugger (8 years); and Public Defender Greg Eichelman (8 years).

Other contested county/judicial offices include:

  • Clerk of Courts: Republican Sarah Davis is being challenged by Republican Randy Collier.
  • County Clerk: Four Republican newcomers seek to replace retiring Carroll Jenkins, including Lisa Harmon-Winstead, Nancy Klepper-Davis, Mike Carpenter and Benny Lane.
  • Trustee: Three Republicans seek to replace retiring Patsy Courtney, including Becky Lawson-Rogers, Jim Shanks and Bill Helton. The winner will take on Democrat Chris Christian in the August general election.
  • Circuit Judge (8 years): Seeking to replace retiring Judge John Wilson are Republicans Alex Pearson and Linda Thomas Woolsey.
  • Attorney General (8 years): Seeking to replace retiring Berkeley Bell are Republicans Dan E. Armstrong and Ed Kershaw. The winner will take on Democrat Cecil Clayton Mills Jr. in the August General Election.
  • An unusually high number of candidates are seeking one of the 21 county commission seats. Among the county commission candidates seeking one of three seats in each district are:

  • District 1: Three incumbent Republicans, Dwight Carter, Eugene Christian and Syble Vaughan-Trent, as well as Republican challenger Chris Jones. Jones served on the county commission 2006-10 as a Democrat.
  • District 2: Includes Republican incumbents B.D. Cradic and Jeff Barrett; Independent incumbent Fred Castle, and Democrat Dustin Smith. All four will transfer on to the August General election.
  • District 3: Incumbent Hubert Neal is not seeking re-election. Among the Republicans are incumbents Danny Alvis and Stacy Vaughan, and challengers Kenneth Housewright, John W. Housewright, John “Buddy” Martin, Greg Fletcher, Jimmy Couch, and Cathy D. Carter-Lawson. The top three Republican vote-getters will face Democrat Michael Lynn Shanks and Independent Benny L. Boggs in the August election.
  • District 4: There are four Republicans including incumbents Linda Kimbro and Joe McLain who are being challenged by Dwayne B. Powell and Dawson Fields.
  • District 5: There are five Republicans including incumbents John Metz, Glenda Davis and Charlie Freeman, and challengers Donnie R. Eidson Sr. and Mark T. Linkous.
  • District 6: There are five Republicans including incumbents Gary Hicks, Shane Bailey and Darrell Gilliam, and challengers Kasey Lawson and Austin Ray Bradley.
  • District 7: There are six Republicans including incumbents Robert “Bob” Palmer, Charlie Newton and Lynn Short, and challengers Carl “Ketron” Bailey, Frederick C. Grillott and Michael J. Herrell.
  • Five constable seats are uncontested including District 7 incumbent Josh C. Meyers; District 6 newcomer Wayne Cunningham who replaces Michael Seals; District 5 newcomer Michael W. Thacker who replaces Charlie Gibson; District 4 incumbent James Hammonds; and District 2 incumbent Freddie L. Castle.

    The contested constable races include:

  • District 1 with four Republicans including incumbent Dave Bamberg, and challengers Bill Creasy, Corey Roman and Ryan Christian.
  • District 3 with two Republicans including incumbent Jerry Matlock and challenger Frank Vaughn.
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