ROGERSVILLE — If Hawkins County voters were looking for change, that’s what they got Thursday night.
Aside from picking retired state trooper Jim Lee as the new mayor, Hawkins County voted in 13 new members on the 21-member County Commission.
Some current commissioners chose not to run again, and some were defeated in the May primary.
But the two big names that were ousted in Thursday’s county general election were Budget Committee Chairman Stacy Vaughan in District 3 and Budget Committee member Bob Palmer in District 7.
The general consensus among those waiting for the final results Thursday at the Hawkins County Courthouse was that the $40 wheel tax approved by the County Commission last year cost Palmer and Vaughan their seats.
Incumbent District 7 Commissioner Mike Herrell, who won a second term Thursday, was among those who opposed last year’s wheel tax increase.
“I think everybody was really upset over the wheel tax,” Herrell said. “That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve heard.”
Herrell said his main goal for the next four years is to “get rid of the wheel tax. Get the budget straightened out. Hopefully we can all get together and work together and be a whole lot better than what we were the first four years.”
Jim Lee elected county mayor
There were six candidates on the county mayor ballot as well as one official write-in candidate.
Lee, who won the Republican nomination in May, received 3,626 votes, or 39.77 percent of the votes cast.
Longtime Church Hill Mayor Dennis Deal finished second with 2,304, followed by Danny Breeding with 1,514, David Bailey with 852, John Neubert with 319 and Roy Spears with 116. There were also 387 write-in votes, which presumably went to official write-in candidate Kelly Markham.
Lee didn’t answer or return calls seeing comment after the results were posted. But he told the Times News during his campaign that he will work closely with the County Commission to balance the budget.
“The ultimate goal is to give the best service to Hawkins County citizens for the least amount of taxes,” Lee said. “There are places we can cut spending and still have the services that the people deserve. If elected, we will have a full-time, trained grant writer in the mayor’s office. We will obtain all the free grants the county needs and deserves. This will include business, home, educational and public safety grants from the federal and state government. We have got to get this spending under control, and we have got to build up our rainy day fund.”
County Commission results:
District 1: The winners were Raymond Jesse (570), incumbent Syble Vaughan-Trent (530), and George Bridwell (483); who defeated Carole Fuller (446), Paul Hale (263), and Larry Frost (223).
District 2: The winners were Keith Gibson (962), Jeff Barrett (861), and Tom Kerk (828); who defeated Billy Kyle Housewright (633).
District 3: The winners were Charles Thacker (690), Charles Housewright (576), and incumbent Danny Alvis (563); who defeated incumbent Stacy Vaughan (398).
District 4: The winners were incumbent Dawson Fields (846), Valerie Mallett Goins (842), and Hannah Speaks (838).
District 5: The winners were Mark DeWitte (886), incumbent John Metz (843), and incumbent Glenda Davis (824); who defeated Jacki Ewing (531).
District 6: The winners were incumbent Rick Brewer (679), Larry Clonce (634), and incumbent Nancy Barker (629).
District 7: The winners were Bobby Edens (805), incumbent Michael Herrell (698), and Donnie “Spanky” Talley (673); who defeated incumbent Bob Palmer (640) and Allen Gray (181).
School board races
District 4: Incumbent Tecky Hicks defeated John Antrican 730-552.
District 7: Incumbent Holly Helton defeated Andy Mowell 676-494.
A total of 9,414 ballots were cast in Hawkins County for this election, which is 30.49 percent of the 30,872 registered voters.