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Mayor's race is most heated in Carter County Republican Primary

John Thompson • Apr 28, 2018 at 7:45 PM

ELIZABETHTON — There are a lot of strongly contested races in this year’s Carter County Republican Primary, but the hottest race is for the Republican nomination for county mayor.

Mayor

Four candidates are vying for the nomination: the incumbent, Mayor Leon Humphrey; County Commissioner Danny Ward; Carter County School Board Chairman Rusty Barnett; and Elizabethton Electric Department Risk Management and Environment Coordinator Larry Shell.

Humphrey has served as mayor for the past eight years. Prior to serving as mayor, Humphrey had 25 years of experience in business management. He holds a bachelor of science degree in political science and education from East Tennessee State University. For several years during the time Humphrey has served as mayor, he has also served as chairman of the Carter County Commission.

Barnett is the deputy chief of the Elizabethton Fire Department. He has served in that post for three years and was a captain in the fire department for 26 years. He also has served as chairman of the Carter County School Board for the past four years. He also serves as vice chairman of the Carter County Joint Economic and Community Development Board and has served as chairman of the Carter County Republican Party.

Shell has served with the Elizabethton Electric System since 2007. In his current role, Shell handles safety, liability and compliance matters for the department. Prior to that, Shell was the deputy chief of the Elizabethton Police Department. His total service to the city of Elizabethton extends back to 1977.

Ward has served as county commissioner for the 4th District, which includes Courthouse, East Side, Siam and National Guard Armory precincts. In his role as a commissioner, Ward serves as chairman of the Financial Management Committee. Ward is also chairman of the Education Committee and vice chairman of the Landfill Committee. He also serves as a member of the Highway Committee.

Ward has 33 years of experience in business and currently serves as lead assistant manager at the Food City grocery store in Elizabethton.

The race for the Republican nomination is also the race for the position, as there will be no candidate on the ballot of the August county general election to challenge the Republican nominee.

Sheriff

The race for the Republican nomination for Carter County sheriff is between two men: incumbent Sheriff Dexter Lunceford and Rocky Croy, a retired captain in the department.

Lunceford has served as sheriff for the past four years. He has spent his career in law enforcement, first serving as a deputy in the Carter County Sheriff’s Department in 1984. He joined the Johnson City Police Department in 1986 and became a member of the Tennessee Highway Patrol in 1989. He retired from the Highway Patrol in 2012.

Croy retired last year after serving 34 years with the department, rising to the rank of captain. His family has a long tradition of law enforcement service. His father, Clyde Croy, retired as a captain in the Elizabethton Police Department. Rocky’s son, Matt, is a sergeant in the Elizabethton Police Department.

The candidate who wins the Republican nomination will face a challenge from independent candidate Steve Stevenson in the August general election.

Register of Deeds

Jody Bristol is retiring as the county’s register of deeds. There are three candidates in the Republican Primary who are vying to succeed her: Jessica Barnett Markland, a deputy in the register’s office; Jarrod Ellis, the proprietor of J’s Corner restaurant; and Adam Townsend, a former mixed martial arts competitor.

Markland has served in the office of register of deeds for 12 years, rising to the position of chief deputy.

Ellis started his own mowing business at age 14 and began selling hot dogs at the Downtown Elizabethton Car Shows at age 24. That business grew into J’s Corner restaurant.

Townsend has excelled at sports since age 5 and was named All-State in football his junior year. He broke his leg after five games in his senior season. He became a competitor in mixed martial arts, with many of his fights televised.

There are no challengers in the August general election.

County Clerk

There will also be a contested race for the Republican nomination for county clerk. Incumbent Mary Gouge is facing a challenge from deputy county clerk Patsy Lewis and from Bruce Pierce. There are no challengers in the August general election.

Other county offices

Three county office holders face no opposition in the primary: Road Superintendent Roger Colbaugh, Circuit Court Clerk Johnny Blankenship and Trustee Randal Lewis. Lewis faces a challenge from Walter France Andrews Jr. in the August general election.

County Commission

There will be several contests for the Republican nomination for County Commission candidates.

In the 1st District, Buford Peters is retiring. Two incumbents, Robert Acuff and Willie Campbell, are seeking re-election. Two newcomers seeking one of the three nominations are Mark Blevins and Steve Stenstream. The three nominees will face no challengers in the August general election.

In the 2nd District, all three incumbents, Nancy Brown, Mike Hill and Al Meehan, are seeking another term and are challenged by Derrick Guinn and Patty Woodby. The three Republican nominees will be challenged by James Boone in the August general election.

There are three candidates who will receive the three nominations from the 3rd District: incumbents Brad Johnson and Ronnie Trivett and Phillip Brumit. They will be challenged by Charles Von Cannon in the August general election.

In the 4th District, there are four candidates for the three nominations: incumbent Isaiah Grindstaff, Austin Jaynes, Jerry Proffitt and Michael Roberts. There are no challengers in the August general election.

There are three candidates who will receive the three nominations from the 5th District: incumbent Ross Garland and newcomers Ginger Holdren and Layla Ward. They will face challenges from Kevin Arnold and Ed Jordan in the August general election.

There are four candidates for the three nominations from the 6th District: Gary Bailey, Donnie Cable, Travis Hill and incumbent Randall Jenkins. The three nominees will face a challenge from incumbent John Lewis in August.

The commissioners for the 7th District are already decided. Only one candidate is running in the primary: Aaron Frazier. Two incumbents should join him in August: Sonja Culler and Ray Lyons.

There are four candidates for the three nominations in the 8th District. They are: Myles Cook, Robin McKamey, incumbent Cody McQueen and Rick Richardson. The Republican nominees will face incumbent Kelly Collins in August.

Constables

The constable races in the primary include Gary Perry, Larry Perry and Ronald Reed for two slots in the 1st District. Candidates in the two positions in the 2nd District are: Paul Birchfield, Barney Brown, Julie Guinn, Leonard Johnson, Brian Keener, Dewayne Sabisch and John Thompson.

Three candidates are vying for two positions in the 3rd District: Scotty Hall, Jerry Miller and Scott Whaley. The four candidates for two positions in the 4th District are: Jason Jones, Roger Allen Lunceford, Bryan Russell and Harvey Shaffer.

There are two candidates for two nominations from the 4th District: Mark Carrier and Larry Presnell. Two incumbents are running for two nominations from the 6th District: John Henson and Bobby Trivette. There are two candidates from two nominations in the 7th District: Seth Babb and Ken Potter. The only candidate in the 8th District is Dave Ryan.

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