Today is Monday, August 21, 2017

Ballot sees 102 qualify

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As of noon, Thursday, 102 individuals had qualified for the Aug. 7 Local General/State Primary Election in Wilson County.

This does not include the candidates who qualified for statewide races, such as the governor’s race that has 10 candidates running, or the 14 candidates seeking the U.S. Senate seat.

Nor does this list include the any amendments, referendums or statewide judicial offices, such as the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Phillip Warren, administrator of elections, said there was no last minute rush of potential candidates turning in petitions Thursday morning.

“We had about three or four turn them this morning,” Warren said. “It’s been a great qualifying period. It’s been very smooth and hopefully, the candidates are ready to be on the ballot.”

He noted that candidates have until noon on Thursday, April 10, to withdraw and not have their name on the ballot.

Nine candidates turned their petitions in on either April 1 or 2, but overall, Warren said the petitions came in at a steady pace throughout the qualifying period, which began on Jan. 3, for all non-judicial candidates.

“I think we explained things well enough about our petition process that they took it seriously, so we didn’t have a big rush at the last second,” Warren added.

In addition, he said the Election Commission staff and board appreciated people using their website.

“We really appreciate people using our website, which has all of the information on it. But if anybody has any questions, feel free to call us at any time at 444-0216,” he said.

State Primary Races of Note

Only one of the State Primary Races has a person running unopposed, and that is the Democrat State Executive Committee Woman – Senate District 17 race. Rachel Givens is the only candidate in that race, as incumbent Mary A. Patterson picked up a petition but did not turn it in by the deadline.

In the U.S. House of Representatives race for the 6th Congressional District and the Tennessee State Senate race for the 17th District, both Republican incumbents have other Republicans running against them.

Jerry Lowery, assistant principal at White County High School, is running on the Republican ticket against incumbent Diane Black of Gallatin, a fellow Republican for Congress.

Clark Boyd, a State Farm Insurance agent in Lebanon, is seeking to unseat fellow Republican and incumbent State Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet.

Another interesting twist has Aubrey Givens, an attorney in Lebanon, running for both the Democrat State Executive Committeeman for State Senate District 17, but also for Circuit Court Judge Division II in the 15th Judicial District against incumbent John D. Wootten Jr. 

Local General Races of Note

There are four Wilson County races that have four or more candidates seeking the same office.

The most crowded field is for General Sessions Judge Division II, which is currently held by Judge Robert Hamilton, who announced his retirement last year.

Five individuals have qualified for the position – Andy Wright, Ellis H. Marshall III, Shelley Gardner, Harry A. Christiansen and Haywood Barry.

Four individuals are vying for Circuit Court Clerk slot due to the retirement of Linda Neal. Seeking the position are Felicia Plumlee Hale, Debbie Moss, Jeff Dickson and Bud Brandon.

Two County Commission seats also have four candidates vying for the seat, including the incumbent for each.

Sara B. Patton, the incumbent in District 9, has three individuals looking to take her place – Gary Tarpley, James Copas and Jason Haley.

In District 25, incumbent Randy Hall will face challenges from Jim Emberton, Luther C. Lenning and John Wayne Hamblen.

Of the current 25 members of the County Commission, two incumbents are not seeking re-election: District 11’s Jim Bradshaw of Mt. Juliet and District 12’s Billy Rowland of Lebanon, who is the current longest-serving commissioner.

A Mt. Juliet city ordinance prohibits Bradshaw from holding two elected positions. He also serves as the District 4 Commissioner for the City of Mt. Juliet. Rowland is retiring.

Running for Bradshaw’s seat unopposed is John P. Gentry, while three individuals are seeking Rowland’s seat – Terry McPeak, Terry Ashe and John Szente.

The two newest members of the County Commission are both running unopposed.

Terry Muncher, who will run for the District 18 seat, was appointed in January to fill former Commissioner Adam Bannch’s seat due to him moving out of his district. Bannach, whose new residence places him in District 2, is the sole candidate that seat.

Dan Walker, who was appointed to the District 10 seat in February following the death of long-time commissioner Fred Weston in January, faces no opposition.

Others running unopposed for their commission seats are: District 5’s Jerry McFarland, District 15’s Mike Justice, District 17’s Gary Keith and District 20’s Annette Davis-Stafford.

The race for District 8 has two current commissioners facing off against each other because reapportionment placed them both in the same district, whereas currently they are in separate districts.

Frank Bush, the incumbent for District 8, will face against Terry Duncan, who currently holds the District 2 seat.

Of the three Wilson County Board of Education seats up for election, only one incumbent faces any challengers. Zone 4’s Ron Britt faces opposition from Sam Green and Linda Armistead. 

What to expect on Election Day

In a March 19 interview with The Wilson Post, Warren said he expects the ballot to be approximately 14 pages long, but that he does not want that to discourage voters from voting.

“We have 47 local races, not including retention votes and state and federal primary races,” Warren said. “This is going to be as long as the 2006 ballot, but we’re taking steps to speed the process along.”

First, Warren said that with the E-Poll Book, people can get in “any line, any time on Election Day. You don’t have to stand in line according to your last name anymore. You can go to any registrar available and sign in to vote.”

Second, the Election Commission is doing a study with Cumberland University’s Masters of Business Administration classes to see how long it will take people on average to vote a mock ballot similar to the one they’ll see in August.

Warren told The Post on Thursday afternoon that he anticipates getting the results from the Cumberland study back in late May.

“This is the second semester we’ve done this, so we’ll have some good data,” he said. “These studies, along with how many people vote from each precinct during early voting, will help us make sure we have enough machines at each precinct come Election Day.”

In addition, he said that taking advantage of early voting – which runs from July 18 through Aug. 2 – will help speed up the process on Election Day

“We don’t want people to stay away from voting because it’s a long ballot.”

Correspondent Amelia Morrison Hipps may be reached at

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Aug. 7 Local General/State Primary Election, candidates, Phillip Warren, Wilson County Election Commission
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