|County races contested
Loudon County’s primary election May 1 will bring big decisions for local voters.
When the deadline to file a petition for the election passed at noon Thursday, the races were set. Highlighting the May ballot are the positions of county mayor and sheriff, both of which will be contested.
Incumbent County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw and Loudon County Commission Chairman Steve Harrelson are the two candidates seeking the county’s top office.
Bradshaw took the seat in a closely contested race in 2014, defeating former mayor Estelle Herron by just 143 votes, or 2.32 percent of the final tally.
“When I started four years ago there was probably only a handful of people that gave me a shot at running a successful race,” Bradshaw said. “I think we’re on a good path here and seeing the county take some strides. … I would like to lead that path, and the decision to run for reelection was really a no-brainer.”
Bradshaw pointed to population growth as a positive sign for Loudon County moving into the next four years.
“What makes us attractive? I think our low tax rate, the cost of living is very low,” he said. “Loudon is a beautiful county, and we’ve got to take advantage of that and our continued growth.
“We’re going to continue to go after jobs,” he added. “We’ve been very lucky. I’ve played a very strong hand in landing over 1,000 jobs in the last four years, and we’re going to keep going after them.”
Harrelson has served on county commission since 2010.
“Over the years with my public service experience with Lenoir City (as parks and recreation director) I have just always had a desire to enhance the quality of life for people in Loudon County,” Harrelson said. “Over the last 12 years serving on the Loudon County school board and Loudon County Commission, then the last four years serving as chairman of the Loudon County Commission, I just thought the next step to serve the people of Loudon County would be as county mayor.
“... I just want to say how blessed we are to be living in Loudon County,” he added. “We have a beautiful community with excellent quality of life and low taxes and some of the friendliest people in the state. If chosen, I would love to be able to lead Loudon County into the future.”
Both Bradshaw and Harrelson referenced a grassroots-style campaign of going door-to-door and meeting people as a focus for their respective campaigns.
In the race for county sheriff, Tim Guider, who ran unopposed in 2014, will be challenged by Loudon Police officers Scott Newman and Marty Ward.
Guider made the decision to run again based partly on what he called “unfinished business.”
“I wanted to see the jail project through,” Guider said. “We’ve been working on it now for about six or seven years and just now we’ll hopefully be breaking ground in a month or so. … I’m looking forward to that and seeing the completion of that project.”
For Newman, the decision has been four years in the making. He considered running in 2014 but after a conversation with Guider decided to hold off for four years in case Guider chose to retire.
“I’m ready to lead Loudon County law enforcement into the future,” Newman said. “... I think the way things are going right now more and more we need to be involved with our children, be involved in our community. If you look at the city (of Loudon), everybody down there knows all our policemen. … I think it’s time for a new breath. I’ve got the heart to do it and the desire to do it, and I’m ready to go forward and be the sheriff. “
Ward could not be reached for comment by News-Herald presstime.
Two other county offices will be contested after three candidates filed for the position of county clerk. Darlene Russell, who currently holds the position, will retire at the end of her term.
Hoping to fill her seat are three Republican candidates — Lisa Bridges, Martin Fugate and Carrie McKelvey.
Also contested will be the position of road superintendent, which is currently held by Eddie Simpson, who will be challenged by fellow Republican Sean Giles. Giles held the position prior to Simpson winning the office in 2010 and challenged Simpson again in 2014.
The officers of trustee, circuit court clerk and register of deeds will go unopposed with Chip Miller, Lisa Niles and Tracie Little maintaining their positions.
Four county commission seats set
While all 10 Loudon County Commission seats are up for election in 2018, the race is already won for a handful.
Kelly Littleton-Brewster, David Meers, Matthew Tinker and Bill Satterfield will all run unopposed in the May 1 primary.
For those running uncontested, the coming months can be spent focusing on the job of commissioner rather than on campaigning and preparing for a vote.
“It makes things a little easier on your mind and you can focus solely on doing the job at hand, which is representing the second district for me,” Tinker said.
Two other incumbent commissioners will know whether their seats are safe after results in May. Harold Duff is challenged for the District 5, Seat A by Richard Truitt, while Henry Cullen faces Susan Gingrich for the District 7 seat. All four are running as Republicans.
The District 4 and District 6 seats will also be determined after the May 1 vote, with five Republican candidates running in the two districts. Each of those seats is guaranteed to have a new face.
Steve Harrelson, the incumbent for District 6, is running for county mayor. Three Republican candidates are running to fill the vacancy Harrelson leaves behind — Robert Epley, Mark Matlock and Adam Waller.
In District 4, Commissioner Leo Bradshaw will not seek reelection. Running to fill that seat are Republican candidates Gary Whitfield and David Gray.
“I’ve just been in government for several years and worked in it and feel it’s just time to retire,” Bradshaw said. “… I want to let a younger person get involved. There’s a good one in our district if he can get elected, and I think he can. So he can get involved and maybe do some more things than possibly I could.”
The only seats that won’t be decided May 1 are District 2, Seat A and District 5, Seat B.
Democrat Earlena Maples currently holds the seat in District 2. Challenging Maples is Republican Julia Hurley. Because the two candidates represent different parties, each will move on to the Aug. 2 Loudon County general election.
District 5, Seat A is now held by Republican Van Shaver, who will be challenged by Republican Sharon Yarbrough and Democrat Jan Hahn.
Yarbrough held the seat heading into the 2014 election but was defeated by Shaver with a slim, nine-vote margin. Either Yarbrough or Shaver will move on to the August election to compete for the seat against Hahn.
No matter who fills the six contested commission seats, Tinker believes there will be plenty of work to do.
“I think continuing the work on the jail renovations project will be a big issue,” he said. “When the contract comes out to bid and hoping that comes back in at an affordable price that we can all agree to be willing to pay without any tax increases. If not, figuring out how to keep it at that price range.”