2 county races short candidates in upcoming election

Published 5:15 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2018

With less than two days left to qualify as a candidate for the upcoming election, some races still do not have enough candidates to fill the number of available positions.

Interest in running for the county offices has been low this year, according to Carter County Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris.

“I’ve never seen candidate participation this low,” she said, adding she has been with the Election Commission for nearly 20 years. “We usually see more petitions during a county election.”

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The following county offices will be on the Republican and Democratic Primary Election Ballot in May and on the county’s General Election Ballot in August: Carter County Mayor, Carter County Sheriff, Carter County Court Clerk, Carter County Register of Deeds, Carter County Trustee, Carter County Circuit Court Clerk, Road Superintendent, Carter County Commissioner (3 seats for each of the county’s eight districts), and Constable (2 positions for each of the eight districts).

The winners of the each party’s Primary Elections will move on to the General Election to face off against any Independent candidates who may have qualified.

According to Harris, two of the races are currently short enough candidates to fill the available positions.

“We’re short one to even file for Commission in the 5th District and one constable to file for the 8th,” Harris said.

In the county’s 7th district, three residents have picked up qualification papers, but only one of the three has returned their petition and qualified as a candidate. According to Harris, that could potentially lead to that race being two candidates short if neither of the two remaining individuals qualifies.

“Time is running out,” Harris said.

The deadline to qualify as a candidate is noon on Thursday, Feb. 15, and Harris said the deadline could not be extended, and late petitions cannot be considered for qualification.

“Even if it’s 12:01 it cannot be accepted,” Harris said, adding that is per state law.

If those three races do not garner enough candidates to fill the available positions for that district, Harris said those races will have to move on to another election.

“The law states it would have to go to the next open General Election, which would be in November,” Harris said. “I believe the County Commission would also have to appoint someone to fill those seats until the November election because they take office on September 1.”

The process for filling those seats in a November election will be something new to Harris and her staff. She said in the event the positions aren’t filled in the county’s Primary and General Elections she will be working with the State Election Commission for guidance on how to handle the special election to fill those spots.

Candidate petitions can still be picked up at the Carter County Election Commission.

To qualify as a candidate for either party’s primary election or as an independent, residents must complete a candidate petition. The deadline to qualify through the state as a candidate for Sheriff or Road Superintendent has already passed as those two offices must be certified through state boards prior to the county’s qualification deadline.

Each candidate petition must contain the signatures of at least 25 registered voters in order for the candidate to qualify. Those seeking election to a county-wide office — such as Mayor or Trustee — can obtain signatures from registered voters residing anywhere in Carter County. Those running for district-specific offices — such as County Commission or Constable — must obtain their 25 signatures from registered voters residing within that district.

For more information, contact the Carter County Election Commission by calling 423-542-1822 or stop by their office, located at 116 Holston Avenue.