BLOUNTVILLE — It is beginning to look like a potentially crowded field of would-be candidates seeking the Republican Party nomination to run for Sullivan County highway commissioner next year.
As of the Sullivan County Election Commission’s most recent update of petitions picked up or filed, six men — including a sitting Sullivan County commissioner — have indicated they hope to run for the GOP nomination for the job.
No one has picked up a petition to run for the Democratic Party nomination. And no one has picked up to run for the $101,000 per year job as an independent.
The post currently is held by Terry Shaffer, appointed interim highway commissioner by the Republican-controlled Sullivan County Commission three years ago after Allan Pope — a Republican who won the office from a longtime Democratic incumbent in 2006 — was indicted on theft charges related to work performed by the county highway department.
Shaffer announced earlier this month that he is retiring, effective next week.
At the same time, the district attorney’s office confirmed an investigation into alleged improprieties within the highway department was launched more than two months ago.
Shaffer told the Times-News his stepping down has nothing to do with the TBI investigation, but rather his more than 32 years of employment with the county.
He declined to comment on the TBI probe.
“I just decided to retire so somebody else will have time to run (for highway commissioner) for the election in May,” Shaffer said.
Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus said he expects the TBI investigation to be concluded in January or February, at which point the findings will be presented to a Sullivan County grand jury.
The Sullivan County Commission is expected to appoint a new interim highway commissioner next month.
Voters won’t go to the polls for those party primaries until May 6.
The filing deadline for hopefuls wanting to be on a primary ballot, however, is noon Feb. 20.
In addition, candidates for highway commissioner must comply with all certification requirements no later than Feb. 6, 2014.
Requirements for highway commissioner include: be licensed to practice engineering in Tennessee; or be a graduate of an accredited school of engineering, with at least two years’experience in highway construction or maintenance; or have a combination of education and experience equivalent to either of the above; or have at least four years’ experience in a supervisory capacity in highway construction or maintenance.
Those who have picked up petitions indicating they will seek the GOP nomination to run for highway commissioner are: Michael W. Barker, Ronnie M. Hubble, Ricky J. Jones, Sullivan County Commissioner Dwight King, Bobby Manning III and Christopher Salley.