Murray raising more money than Belgeri in run for Sullivan County Commissioner of Highways

J. H. Osborne • Apr 18, 2018 at 3:45 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Retired Sullivan County Highway Department employee Scott Murray is raising — and spending — more money for his campaign to become the department’s next leader than the present Sullivan County commissioner of highways is doing in his bid for re-election. That’s according to first quarter campaign financial disclosure statements on file with the Sullivan County Election Commission.

Incumbent Jim Belgeri appears to be running a nearly self-funded campaign, at least as of March 31, the end of the reporting period for the first quarter statements. The Belgeri campaign, with Alan Novak listed as treasurer, listed $8,100 in total receipts between January 1 and March 31, and $8,000 of that came from a loan from the candidate. The $100 was listed as unitemized contributions (which must be $100 or less from each source). Belgeri’s campaign reported spending $6,524 during the period and a balance on hand of $1,576.

Murray’s campaign, with Margaret Murray listed as treasurer, listed $12,508 in total receipts during the same period, and $3,500 of that came from loans from the candidate. The loans aside, Murray’s campaign reported nearly $6,900 in itemized contributions during the period: including contributions from more than a dozen Sullivan County Highway Department employees or retirees and Sullivan County Commissioners Eddie Williams and Darlene Calton. Murray’s campaign reported spending $11,540.77 during the period and a balance on hand of $967.23.

Belgeri’s campaign submitted its report on April 10, the deadline to do so. Murray’s campaign submitted its report on April 2, but returned to the Sullivan County Election Office on April 16 to amend one line in relation to the $3,500 worth of loans, Sullivan County Administrator of Elections Jason Booher said in answer to questions from the Times News.

Booher said Mrs. Murray amended the amount listed as loans outstanding on the report’s summary page — from $71.25 to $3,500  — because she had listed what remained unspent from the loans, not the $3,500 total.The total loans were listed on the page of the report dealing only with loans. That section, too, however, revealed a mistake, Booher said, which required the campaign to file a late year-end report because one of the loans occurred during that reporting period.

The race is one of several that voters will decide in the Republican Party primary on May 1, as both Belgeri and Murray are running as Republicans and there are no Democrats or independents running for the office. Belgeri is seeking a second four-year term. Murray, a 37-year former employee of the department, is seeking to unseat him. Both men met state certification requirements to hold the office, which currently pays about $111,000 per year. That’s set to increase by the time the winner takes office on Sept. 1.

On July, the state-mandated minimum salary of the commissioner of highways for a county the size of Sullivan will increase to $109,046. Sullivan County has for many years paid its highway commissioner an extra $6,835  in compensation because of what’s described as additional duties and responsibilities. With that, the office will pay nearly $116,000 per year as of July 1.

Early voting  began April 11 at the Sullivan County Election Office in Blountville and will begin on April 19 at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium and the National Guard Armory in Bristol. Early voting ends at all three sites on April 26. City voters are county taxpayers and eligible to cast ballots in county elections.

For more information visit www.scelect.org.



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