Local seats up for grabs
Stephanie Myers News-Herald.net
Voters will have no shortage of options on the ballot during the next election cycle, as residents in November will decide on city council positions in Lenoir City, Loudon and Greenback and a new mayor in the city of Loudon, consider making the Lenoir City recorder an appointed office and weigh in on a bill that will make wine available in local grocery stores.

Included on the Nov. 4 ballot for all Loudon County voters will be the federal and state general election, including Tennessee governor and other lawmaker positions and city elections for Greenback, Lenoir City and Loudon. In Greenback, Mayor Tom Peeler is running uncontested and six candidates are vying for four alderman seats. In Lenoir City, residents will decide on three city council seats. Incumbents Mike Henline, Buddy Hines and Jim Shields are seeking re-election, while David Cole, Steve Shoemaker and Stuart Starr are challenging.

Lenoir City Board of Education members Bobby Johnson Sr. and Jim McCaroll are running uncontested for their seats.

Lenoir City voters will also have a chance to change the city recorder/treasurer position to an appointed seat, an initiative brought before voters two years ago.

If approved, the city will make the switch after November 2016, when current City Recorder/Treasurer Jim Wilburn, who has also since taken on the added role of city administrator following the retirement of Dale Hurst, will finish his four-year term. Wilburn won the seat in the 2012 election.

Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens said during a recent council meeting that he believed the position could be filled from within, adding that he thought Maggie Hunt, assistant recorder/treasurer with Lenoir City, who has filled the position as pro tempore in the past, could fill the seat.

Heated local race

Numerous candidates have expressed interest in governing the city of Loudon. Voters will choose a new mayor, after current Mayor Judy Keller announced she would not seek re-election, and four city council posts that will be vacated in the November election. Eight individuals, including incumbents Jimmy Parks, Lynn Millsaps and Judy Jones, have expressed interest in the council posts, while three individuals are running for mayor.

Councilman Mike Cartwright is seeking the mayor’s post. He said he believes his 21 years of experience on council and nine years on the Loudon Utilities Board will be a plus for the city.

“I hope people realize it’s not just necessarily what people are for,” Cartwright said. “I mean everyone is for progress and lower taxes and more services, but sometimes it’s got to be, you have to be able to balance all of that.”

While he promised to continue some goals set by the current council, Cartwright said he believes some directions, like a proposition to acquire the old Hutch property to house a new city hall on a portion of the property, should be scrapped.

“I don’t know if we will be able to purchase just what we need without buying the whole parcel,” he said. “Of course, the cost associated with the cleanup of that property would be another concern of mine. That building is 70 or 80 years old at least. I would have concerns of cost of cleaning up not only the structure of it, but whatever contaminants that may have leaked into the ground or that are still laying around down there.”

In his first political bid, longtime city of Loudon resident Jeffery Walters said if elected as mayor, he hopes to put his efforts into the local economy, with focus on the Highway 72 corridor. He credited his background in business and a degree in political science from East Tennessee State University as qualifiers.

“We have some nice historic sites with renovation downtown and the Lyric Theatre, but we have nothing else to draw tourism, and you have to have the complete package,” Walters said. “We’re missing things such as shopping, family restaurants. You can’t just pull them in for things like the (Smoky Mountain) Fiddler’s Convention or the Lyric Theatre. You have to have the rest of the support facilities in place to draw tourists and the dollars that accompany that.

“I also want to see if we can find a way to revitalize the west end business district, and above all I want a city administration that listens to we the people,” Walters added.

Mayoral candidate Jim Greenway echoed his challengers’ sentiments to boost the local economy.

“What I want to do more than anything is just help develop some opportunity to keep the young people in Loudon,” Greenway said. “We lose a lot of them, and we need to somehow work to promote and develop the commercial areas of Loudon, whether we’re working with the Chamber of Commerce or other developing agencies just to provide those opportunities.”

Parks said if reelected to his second term on council he hopes to breathe more business life into the city of Loudon and in turn snag monies from the motoring public.

“I’m one of the ones that likes to work on (Highway) 72 and I-75,” Parks said. “That is a great area to bring in more money because there are hundreds of cars, hundreds of people in them with thousands of dollars in their pockets, and they’re going right on by because we’re not snagging them off that interstate. Of course, we’re getting the new Bojangles.

“They are beginning to work on Highway 70 and 11 at the intersection to improve the red lights, and we’re working, of course, on the yard sale thing and trying to clean up some old abandoned properties that have been like this for years and years,” he added.

Wine bill on ballot

Also included on the November ballot, residents in the city of Loudon and Lenoir City will decide on whether to allow wine to be sold in local grocery stores.

After the bill failed in Nashville last year, the state House of Representatives voted by a wide margin in February to allow wine to be sold in Tennessee supermarkets. The bill stipulates that cities and counties currently allowing package stores or liquor-by-the-drink sales to hold referendums on whether to allow wine to be sold outside of liquor stores. Both Lenoir City and the city of Loudon would have that option.

Should the proposal pass, residents still won’t see a change in grocery stores until 2016. The county passed a referendum on package stores in November 2008, according to the election commission.

“They will have to be a city resident to vote on that,” Harrison said about the wine bill proposition in Lenoir City and the city of Loudon.

The last day to register to vote for the November election is Monday, Oct. 6.

Early voting for the election will be held from Oct. 15-30 at the Loudon County Office Building in Loudon, Roane State Community College Lenoir City campus or at the Chota Recreation Center in Tellico Village.

For more information on early voting, visit http://www.loudoncountyvotes.com.