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Sullivan voters to select county mayor, attorney

May 5th, 2014 11:15 pm by J. H. Osborne

Sullivan voters to select county mayor, attorney

Campaign signs line a roadway in Blountville. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today in Sullivan County. Photo by David Grace.

BLOUNTVILLE — Polls for party primaries will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. across Sullivan County Tuesday as voters turn candidates into nominees for — and in some high-profile cases, de facto winners of — the county general election later this year.

The races for county mayor and county attorney will be decided in the Republican party primary Tuesday, because no one is running in the Democratic party primary.

In Tennessee, voters do not register by party and state law permits an "open" primary process — voters complete an application for ballot and select the primary of their choosing.

Election officials have said no voter in Sullivan County has ever been challenged at the polls due to questions about party affiliation.

For Sullivan County mayor, voters in the Republican party primary will choose between Steve Godsey and Richard Venable.

Godsey has been mayor since 2006. Venable was county mayor from 2002 to 2006 and has spent the past eight years heading up NETWORKS Economic Development Partnership.

Also in the Republican party primary, voters will pick the county attorney for the next four years. The choices are: Alice Alexander, John K. Gillenwater, and incumbent Dan Street.

Two other hotly watched races on the GOP primary ballot: Sheriff Wayne Anderson is challenged by County Commissioner and former sheriff's employee Ty Boomershine; while Interim Highway Commissioner Bobbie Manning is in a three-way race for the Republican nomination with Jim Belgeri and County Commissioner Dwight King.

Other races included in the primaries include the bulk of offices in Sullivan County government, such as county trustee, register of deeds, county clerk, circuit court clerk, property assessor, and — at least on the GOP side of the ticket — all 24 seats on the Sullivan County Commission.

Voters must vote at their designated precinct Tuesday and can confirm the correct location by calling the Sullivan County Election Office or by using the voter lookup feature on the Sullivan County Election Commission's website, www.scelect.org.

There are 25 precincts in Sullivan County.

Voters must have a photo ID issued by Tennessee or the federal government in order to vote. Voters do not need their voter registration card in order to vote.

City residents are eligible to vote in county elections.

"As a result of the overwhelming turnout during early voting it is difficult to project an overall turnout," Sullivan County Administrator of Elections Jason Booher said Monday. "However, based upon previous elections we are estimating around 15,000 voters will participate in this election."

Election results will begin being posted at 8 p.m. and will continue to be updated throughout the night as polling locations report back to the election office.

"The final uncertified results should be reported and on the website by 9:30 p.m.," Booher said.

Since the last election, voters in the Fort Robinson area of Kingsport have had a change in election day polling location — from Clouds Bend UMC to Lynn View Community Center, Booher said, and Vermont United Methodist Church is a new polling place for all voters in the old Cedar Grove Elementary School voting precinct.

A total of 8,720 ballots were cast during the early voting period, Booher said last week, up from the 5,017 who voted in the last similar election in 2010.

Of those 8,720 early ballots this time around, 8,123 were cast in the Republican party primary and 597 were cast in the Democratic party primary.

There were 90,849 registered voters in Sullivan County just before early voting began.

Only 44,855 of them live in the non-incorporated areas of the county, Booher said — the other 45,994 live inside one of the four cities within Sullivan County: Kingsport (with 29,769 registered Sullivan County voters); Bristol (with 14,995 registered Sullivan County voters): Bluff City (with 991 registered Sullivan County voters); and Johnson City (with 239 registered Sullivan County voters).

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