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Early voting in Sullivan County elections expands to Kingsport and Bristol

J. H. Osborne • Updated Apr 19, 2018 at 8:49 AM

KINGSPORT — Early voting for the May 1 party primaries begins today at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium and the National Guard Armory in Bristol. It continues at the Sullivan County Election Office in Blountville. Early voting will end at all three locations at close of polls on April 26. Election Day is May 1.

Almost every major office in county government is on the ballot for the county’s general election in August. Several races, however, will be decided in the Republican Party Primary because there are no Democrats or independents seeking those offices.

Sample ballots for the Republican Party primary and the Democratic Party primary can be found online at www.scelect.org.

Registered voters may vote in only one primary.

Turnover is certain among county leadership because more incumbents, many 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). County Commissioner Bryan Boyd (District 2); County Commissioner Dennis Houser (District 4); County Commissioner Andy Hare (District 5); County Commissioner Eddie Williams (District 8), chairman of the county’s Budget Committee; and County Commissioner Joe Herron (District 11) have all chosen not to seek re-election to another four-year term. In addition, three other county 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: County Commissioner Cheryl Russell (District 2), who is seeking the GOP nomination to run for county clerk; County Commissioner Matthew Johnson (District 6), who is seeking the GOP nomination to run for county trustee; and County Commissioner Bobby Russell (District 9), who is seeking the GOP nomination to run for Circuit Court clerk.

Four races are pretty much already over, as 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. Whichever of the three wins the Republican primary in May will face independent Jerry M. Sorrell in August.

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

Four people filed to seek the GOP nomination to run for county clerk: Howard “Sunny” Baker; former County Mayor Steve Godsey; Deputy County Clerk Teresa L. Jacobs; and Cheryl Russell. Whichever of the four wins the party primary in May will in August face Deputy County Clerk Jane Davis, who has no opposition in the Democratic primary in May. Godsey did not respond to the Times News for a Q&A article on the candidates and has since filed a campaign finance report indicating he has raised no money and spent no money. The Times News asked election officials about Godsey, and Administrator of Elections Jason Booher said Godsey had called his office and asked to have his name removed from the ballot, but it was legally too late to alter the ballot.

Several races will be decided in the Republican Party primary in May, including 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.

Republican hopefuls for Commissioner of Highways are incumbent Jim Belgeri, who is seeking a second four-year term, and Scott Murray, a retired 37-year employee of the Sullivan County Highway Department.

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 Aldermen 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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