Voters still have decisions to make as early voting begins Friday

Published 2:23 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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By Buzz Trexler

Star Correspondent

Courtesy votes will reign in the Aug. 1 Carter County General Election, but the Republican and Democratic primaries still leave some decisions for voters.

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There are 11 offices on the General Election ballot, all of which have unopposed candidates: Jason E. Clawson, County Commission District 6; Lesley Hughes, County Commission District 7; Jerry C. Stout, County Commission District 8; Shane Simerly, Assessor of Property; Shannon Burchett, Superintendent of Roads; Keith Bowers, School Board District 1; Danny R. Ward, School Board District 4; Nancy (Renee) Lewis, School Board District 6; Dylan Hill, School Board District 8; Michael Mason, Constable District 2; and Shannon Bower, Constable District 5.

With no Democratic opposition, all but three of those offices were decided during the March 5 Republican Primary, with unexpired County Commission Districts 7 and 8 seats and District 5 Constable becoming open due to resignations within the past year. District 8 Commissioner Cody McQueen resigned in December 2023, and District 7 Commissioner Daniel McInturff submitted his resignation in January. District 5 Constable Mark Carrier resigned early this year.

After representing the 4th District in the state House of Representatives since 2015, state Rep. John B. Holsclaw Jr. decided against reelection and instead sought the Republican nomination for Carter County assessor of property, losing to Simerly in the March 5 primary.

Since no candidate filed for the Aug. 1 Democratic Primary in the House District 4 race to represent Unicoi County and part of Carter County, voters in the Republican Primary will effectively decide the seat as they choose between Curt Alexander, longtime mayor of Elizabethton, and Renea Jones, president of Jones and Church Farms in Unicoi.

Timothy Aaron Hill, incumbent in the District 3 state House race, is unopposed in the Republican Primary, while Lori Love is unopposed in the Democratic Primary for that seat. District 3 includes Johnson County and part of Carter, Hawkins, and Sullivan counties, including Blountville.

Incumbent Marsha Blackburn, who has represented Tennessee in the U.S. Senate since 2019, is opposed by Tres Wittum in the race to retain her seat. Blackburn was the first woman to represent Tennessee in the U.S. Senate. If elected, the 36-year-old Wittum would be the first Millennial in that seat; Blackburn is 72.

In the Democratic Primary for the U.S. Senate, there are four candidates: Marquita Bradshaw, of Memphis; Lola Denise Brown, of Nashville; Gloria Johnson, of Knoxville; and Civil Miller-Watkins, of Rossville. Bradshaw was the party’s nominee to oppose Blackburn in 2020; Johnson currently serves District 90 in the state House of Representatives.

Diana Harshbarger is unopposed in the Republican Primary for her 1st District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. There are two candidates for the nomination in the Democratic Primary: Kevin Jenkins, of Sneedville, and Bennett H. Lapides, of Gatlinburg. Lapides lost the 2020 race for the state House District 12 seat (part of Sevier County), being soundly defeated by Republican Dale Carr.

Also on the ballot are the questions of judicial retention regarding state Supreme Court Judge Dwight Tarwater and Court of Criminal Appeals Western Division Judge Matthew J. Wilson.

Voters in the Johnson City District will have the opportunity to vote on two referendums regarding changes to the city charter, as well as Juvenile Court Clerk and Johnson City School Board seats.

Early voting in the Aug. 1 state and federal primaries and Carter County General Election begins Friday and continues through Saturday, July 27. The Carter County Election Commission, 116 Holston Ave., is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday. 

The deadline for absentee ballot requests is Thursday, July 25.

Polls are open on Aug. 1 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.