Thursday, February 20, 2014

County qualifying deadline done: A comprehensive look at who is in

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett won’t face opposition in his bid for re-election.

The deadline to qualify to run for county offices was noon today and no one submitted the paperwork to challenge him. That means Burchett, a former a state senator and state representative, will automatically begin his second and final four-year term on Sept. 1, barring a major upset by a write-in candidate in August.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with me or the job I’m doing,” Burchett said. “I think it has to do with the good people who work for Knox County.”

Almost every county seat, with the exception of a handful of commission and school board posts, the law directors, and property assessor, are up for re-election this year.

The county primaries are set for May 6 with the general elections set for August 7.

In addition to the mayor, Circuit Court Clerk Cathy Shanks (formerly Kathy Quist), Public Defender Mark Stephens, and 10 judges won’t seek opposition. 

Further, no one challenged Charme Knight, a county prosecutor, for the district attorney general seat. Knight, a Republican, will replace long-time Democrat and DA Randy Nichols, who will retire at the end of the term.

 Knight, who has worked in the DA’s Office for 25 years, said the lack of an opponent will give her the chance to “hit the ground running.”

“What benefits the office is that I have six months to get ready instead of having to campaign, which is still something I’ll do but to a lesser degree,” she said.

Overall, there are 34 posts up for election including 16 judge and chancellor seats. 

Only one major candidate will have to make it through two races. The rest will more than likely be settled in the primaries.

Interim Trustee Craig Leuthold will take on fellow Republican and current county Commissioner Ed Shouse and Barry Hawkins, a former long-time Trustee’s Office employee, in the primary. The winner will face Democrat James Berrier in the primary.

Bobby Waggoner, a retired chief of detectives in the Sheriff’s Office, and Charles “Sam” Hammett Jr. will challenge Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones for his seat  in the Republican primary.

Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey on Tuesday said she’s not going to seek re-election.

That leaves County Commissioner Mike Hammond, local attorney Steve Williams and Jason

Hunnicutt, a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office to settle the race in the Republican primary.
Hunnicutt, a prosecutor in the District Attorney General’s Office, picked up his petition on Wednesday and then returned it just 40 minutes before the deadline.

“It happened so fast,” he said, referring to McCroskey’s decision not to run and his plans to jump into the contest.

“I’ve worked with the criminal court clerk’s office every day for 12 years and there’s some good people in there but there are some things that need changing,” he added.

In the county clerk’s race, incumbent Republican Foster Arnett Jr will face Democrat and former clerk Mike Padgett in the general election.

And in the register of deeds’ race, incumbent Republican Sherry Witt will face Donald Wiser, an independent, in August.


No Democrats qualified to run, so the four commission races will be settled in the Republican primary.

However, no one qualified to challenged Bob Thomas, a long-time radio personality, for the District 10 at-large post, so he’s pretty much in, barring an unusual victory from an August write-in candidate.

Ed Brantly, another local radio personality, will challenge former Commissioner Michele Carringer for the other at-large seat (District 11); and Bo Bennett, Charles Busler and Rodney Lane will vie for the District 7 post.

Randy Smith, who works in the county’s risk management department, will take on Jason Chandler and Billy Stephens in the District 3 race.

Commissioners Tony Norman (District 3) and R. Larry Smith (District 7) are term-limited.


Five of the nine non-partisan Board of Education seats are up, but only one will more than likely be settled in the primary.

Incumbent Pam Trainor will face political newcomer Amber Rountree, a librarian at Halls Elementary, for the 9th District seat, which represents South Knox County.

The District 7 race pits Patti Lou Bounds and Andrew Graybeal against R. Larry Smith, the current county commission vice chairman.

Incumbent Gloria Deathridge, the board’s current vice chairwoman, will face Marshall Walker and Robert Boyd  for her District 1 post.

Candidates need to get 50 percent “plus one” to outright win the primary and thus the election. If no one does, then the top two vote-getters in the race will advance to August.

In District 4, Sally Absher and Jeffrey Clark will challenge Lynne Fugate, the board’s current chairwoman.

The District 6 race features Brad Buchanan, Terry Hill, Sandra Rowcliffe and Tamara Shepherd.
Thomas Deakins (District 6) and Kim Severance (District 7) opted not to seek re-election.


The 16 judge races comprise almost half of the county seats that are up for election but only six are contested.

Attorneys Kristi Davis, Ray Jenkins and Billy Stokes will vie for the Division 1 circuit court judge post in the Republican primary. Incumbent Dale Workman will not seek re-election.

Harold Wimberly Jr, a Democrat and the incumbent Division 2 circuit court judge, will face Republican William “Bill” Ailor in the general election.

Patti Jane Lay and Greg McMillan will face off in the Republican primary for the Division 4 circuit court judge post with the winner going against, either Daniel Kidd, or David Valone, both Democrats running in the only contested county Democratic Primary, in the general election.

Incumbent Bill Swann opted not to run again.

Long-time Chancellor Daryl Fansler, a Democrat, will face Republican Clarence Pridemore in the general election.

Incumbent Patricia Long, a Republican, will square off against Democrat George Underwood Jr. for the Division 3 general sessions judge post.

County prosecutor Leland Price, who handled prosecutions in the trials connected to the torture-slayings of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsome, will face Scott Green for the Division 3 criminal court judge seat. Green, a local attorney and former prosecutor, was appointed  to represent Letalvis Cobbins, one of the suspects, in the 2009 Christian-Newsome  trial.

Price is a Democrat and Green is a Republican.

Incumbent Mary Beth Leibowitz is retiring at the end of the term.

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