Johnson City Press: Incumbents seeking another term on Elizabethton City Council, School Board
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Incumbents seeking another term on Elizabethton City Council, School Board

John Thompson • Nov 5, 2018 at 12:29 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Incumbents are facing challenges from political newcomers in both the Elizabethton City Council and School Board elections Tuesday.

Four of the seven seats on the council are being contested this year. Two of the five seats on the School Board are also being contested.

There are two incumbents and two challengers in the School Board race. All four are veteran educators. The two incumbents are Susan Peters, who is not only a retired teacher but a longtime volunteer in the the city schools, especially at Harold McCormick Elementary.

Tyler Fleming was a career educator in the Kingsport City School System prior to his retirement. Fleming is also active in several service organizations in Elizabethton.

The School Board race includes the hottest controversy, but it is a controversy over which the school board members are not involved by law — a personnel decision. Those decisions are the exclusive territory of the director of schools.

The controversy is over the decision by Director of School Corey Gardenhour to fire the two co-directors of the Elizabethton High School Athletic Department after an inspection revealed school system policies were not being followed on some financial matters including ticket sales.

Eddie Pless was one of the co-directors to be fired, and he has appeared before the School Board to object to the way the action was handled and that his dismissal without explanation caused suspicions in the community. He said he served the department professionally and honestly for many years.

Pless currently works as a recruiter at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Elizabethton. The other challenger in the School Board race is also a longtime educator who works at that school. Danny O’Quinn worked for many years at the Elizabethton City Schools before joining TCAT Elizabethton. He now is the vice president at the school.

Three of the four incumbents on the council are seeking another term. The lone incumbent who is not running is City Councilman Sam Shipley, who has had health problems.

The three City Council members who are up for re-election this year are Mayor Pro-Tem William “Bill” Carter, Councilman Wes Frazier and Councilman Richard Tester. They face challenges from Richard Barker and Michael Simerly. 

Two of the incumbents are small business owners. Carter owns Ladybug Antiques and Collectibles, a store in downtown Elizabethton. Tester owns Secure Test Alarms, installers of home and business alarm systems. Frazier has been employed at Snap-on Tools for over 30 years.

Barker is senior vice president and treasurer of Elizabethton Federal Savings Bank. He was a leader of the study group set up by the City Council last year to study ways to encourage the Twins to remain in Elizabethton.

Michael Simerly is a food broker who has traveled and worked at several locations across the U.S. for 35 years before coming home to Elizabethton. He has been active in the Carter County Proud organization.

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