LC Mayor's Race

Convicted ex-sheriff, chief deputy and his half-brother run for Lenoir City mayor

By Hugh Willett Knoxville News Sentinel
The decision by four-term Lenoir City Mayor Matt Brookshire not to seek re-election Nov. 2 has opened the race to a field that includes a convicted former sheriff, a current chief deputy and the chief deputy's half-brother.

The filing deadline was Thursday.

Brookshire, who lost the Loudon County mayor's race in August, said he decided against running back-to-back campaigns. After 10 years serving the city as mayor and on city council, Brookshire said he wants to devote more time to his family.

Former Loudon County Sheriff Joe Sims is among those running for mayor.

Sims had tried a mayoral run in 2008 but was disqualified by the election commission due to a 1996 conviction. He was sentenced to six months in a halfway house for financing an illegal gambling operation, and he'd also admitted to taking bribes when he was sheriff.

Sims said he has filed the necessary motions with the election commission that would allow him to get on the next ballot.

He points to his experience as a businessman, television broadcaster and former vice mayor in Lenoir City.

Sims said that Lenoir City has been on a spending spree. He said he would like to see the city cut back on spending to keep taxes low for those on fixed incomes.

"About 60 percent of Lenoir City citizens are on fixed incomes," Sims said.

Loudon County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Tony Aikens - also a Lenoir City councilman - is likewise running for mayor and making a pledge against new taxes.

"I have never voted for a tax increase," Aikens said.

As a city councilman, Aikens said he has been a part of efforts to build a new swimming pool, a walking trail and the acquisition of $8 million in grants for the city. He also points to his involvement in local infrastructure improvements, such as those at Harrison Road and Highway 95.

Gary Aikens, half-brother to the chief deputy, is also running for mayor in Lenoir City after an unsuccessful bid for the same office in 2008. He could not be reached for comment.

In the city of Loudon, longtime Mayor Bernie "Inky" Swiney has decided not to run for another term. Three candidates who filed to succeed him are Councilman Lewis "Charlie Brown" Garner, Judy McGill Keller and Doug Lyle.

In Greenback, incumbent Mayor Tom Peeler is running unopposed.