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Barnett easily overcomes write-in challenge to take Carter County mayor job

John Thompson • Updated Aug 2, 2018 at 11:10 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Carter County will have a new mayor in September after Rusty Barnett took 77 percent of the vote to defeat a write-in challenge by incumbent mayor Leon Humphrey during Thursday’s General Election.

In unofficial results, Barnett racked up 7,927 votes, while the total number of write-in votes cast was 2,312.

Thursday was the second election victory for Barnett this season. In May, Barnett won a four-candidate race for mayor in the Republican Primary. In that race, Barnett defeated two-term mayor Humphrey with a vote of 3,679 votes to 2,955 votes. Danny Ward finished third with 2,236 votes. Larry Shell was fourth with 615 votes.

That result set up Humphrey’s write-in challenge when the mayor said many of his supporters urged him to try again to maintain his administration.

As he had in May, Barnett said his goal when he takes office will be “to bring everyone together.”

Barnett said that appeared to be taking place after Thursday’s election when a large crowd attended his victory celebration at the Sports Complex in the Watauga Industrial Park. “I had lots of people from the city and from the county come by. I want to bring together as many people as I can. I want to thank all my supporters who worked so hard for me on this election. And for all of those who were against me, I just want to ask them to give me a chance.”

Barnett is currently chairman of the Carter County School Board. He is a professional firefighter by occupation and is the deputy fire chief of the Elizabethton Fire Department.

Barnett said he will continue to work in the fire department until Aug. 31, the day before he takes the oath of office as mayor. He plans a farewell party at the fire department on Aug. 31.

Humphrey was gracious in defeat, congratulating Barnett on his victory, but also pointed to the accomplishments as mayor.

“I think we have had a very successful eight years as mayor and I think there are many positive trends that show the county is going in the right direction.”

But the mayor is still facing a big challenge in his last days. Humphrey vetoed the budget presented to him last month. On Monday, the County Commission will convene in an attempt to override the mayor’s veto. 

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