DA Tony Clark dies in Nashville; office to appear on August ballot

Published 4:05 pm Monday, March 26, 2018

As members of the community continue to mourn the loss of District Attorney General Tony Clark, local and state election officials were busy Monday reviewing state laws as to who will finish the remainder of his term of office.

According to reports, Clark, 54, of Unicoi County, died of apparent natural causes on Sunday while on a trip to Nashville with family.

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Clark was first elected to serve as the District Attorney General for Tennessee’s First Judicial District in 2006 and was re-elected to a second eight-year term in 2014. His current term of office would have expired in 2022.

He earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 1992 and joined the District Attorney’s Office in 1994 as an Assistant District Attorney.

Carter County Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris said after learning of Clark’s death on Sunday, she immediately sent e-mails to officials with the State Election Commission to find out what needed to be done regarding filling Clark’s unexpired term.

After speaking with State Election Coordinator Mark Goins on Monday, Harris said the District Attorney’s position will appear on the August General Election ballot. Harris provided the Elizabethton Star with a copy of an email she received from Goins regarding the election.

“I was saddened to learn of the passing of District Attorney General Tony Clark,” Goins said in the email. “In regards to the vacancy, you may start issuing petitions for the unexpired term for independent candidates since the office will appear on the August ballot. Political parties may follow the procedures in their rules to make a nomination if time allows.”

The qualifying deadline for the office will be noon on Thursday, April 5.

Under state law, in order to qualify as a candidate for District Attorney General, the applicant must be a licensed attorney admitted to practice law in Tennessee, have been a resident of the state for at least five years, and a resident of the District they are seeking election to for at least one year. Potential candidates must complete a candidate petition and obtain the signatures of at least 25 registered voters of the First Judicial District, which includes, Carter, Johnson, Unicoi, and Washington counties.

In the interim, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has the authority to appoint someone to serve as interim District Attorney until the election can be held. Harris said state officials are not sure yet if Haslam will make an appointment to the position or not since the election is only a few months away.