Change of Guard: County elected officials sworn into office

Published 11:34 pm Friday, August 31, 2018

A slew of changes are on the horizon for the Carter County governmental landscape.

Several newly-elected officials were at the Carter County Courthouse Friday morning for the swearing-in ceremonies to office holders. The second-floor courtroom was filled to the brim with the public as constables, County Commission members and other officeholders took their official oaths to begin a new term. Elected officials assumed their roles on Saturday, Sept. 1.

One of the biggest changes is the role of county mayor. In decisive fashion, Rusty Barnett won the Republican primary election and general to unseat two-term mayor Leon Humphrey.

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While Friday was a day of celebration for the new mayor, it was also bittersweet. Following the swearing-in ceremony, the Elizabethton Fire Department held a retirement celebration for Barnett. Barnett served 38 years with the Elizabethton Fire Department and retired as the department’s deputy fire chief.

“I’m going to miss seeing them every day but I’m right across the river and I know the department is in great hands,” Barnett recently told the Elizabethton Star. Fire Chief Barry Carrier was quick to praise the effort of Barnett, who handled a variety of duties at the department ranging from payroll to organizing the training regime for members.

Carrier told the Elizabethton Star that staff will miss him around the office.

“He’s contributed so much in so many different ways,” he said. “He’s put in hours of tireless work during his time with the department.”

Throughout the election process, Barnett touted a campaign focused on working together. Strengthening county and city bonds is one priority for the new mayor and an item he knows all too well. Along with his previous duties with EFD, Barnett also served with the Carter County Board of Education as chairman and also serves on the Joint Economic Community Development Board. County officials will vote to appoint someone to Barnett’s role on the board during the Sept. 17 County Commission meeting.

Another new office holder that took their oath Friday was Jarrod Ellis.

Taking over the role previously held by the retired Jodie Bristol, Ellis will now serve as the Register of Deeds in the county after holding down a successful operation at J’s Corner Restaurant and staying active in various events throughout the community.

“I am eager to get this term started as the new Register of Deeds,” Ellis said. “I have big shoes to fill. Mrs. Bristol did an outstanding job during her time in office. I am ready to get to work and do everything I can for the citizens of Carter County.”

The recent election also resulted in several new names being part of the County Commission.

Of the 24-person board, 11 new members were elected in the August election. The new individuals now taking office include Aaron Frazier, Austin Jaynes, Gary Bailey, Ginger Holdren, Jerry Proffitt, Layla Ward, Mark Blevins, Patty Woodby, Robin McKamey, Rick Richardson and Travis Hill. Creola Miller was also one of the recently elected school board members to take the oath Friday morning.

Another piece of history that took place was the swearing-in of constables. Of those officials sworn in included Julie Guinn, the county’s first female constable. Guinn also was the top voted constable in the August election by garnering 1,131 votes in District 2.

Other offices, including the Court Clerk, Sheriff and Trustee, were also recognized with the incumbents taking the oath for another term.