Author: Jeremy Nash
With the county’s primary election about five months away, most candidates have already begun taking it to the streets to get at least 25 signatures for election eligibility.
The Loudon County Elections Commission started issuing petitions Nov. 22, leaving potential candidates until Feb. 20 to return their paperwork with the minimum amount of registered voter signatures.
Seats up for election include county mayor, sheriff, county commission, General Sessions Court judge, circuit court clerk, county clerk, road superintendent and trustee. The road superintendent and sheriff must file paperwork with their respective parties in Nashville by Feb. 6 before turning in a petition to the elections commission.
“The process for the candidates as far as the petition process is a very simple process, if they follow the guidelines provided to them in the candidates handbook,” Susan Harrison, administrator of elections, said in an email. “The elections commission provides each candidate a handbook in hopes that it will simplify the process and give them answers to questions that is very often asked. If they cannot find the answer in the book, then they know they can always call the office for help.”
Eight new candidates picked up packets to qualify. Two new candidates will be running for District 1, Seat A of the commission because Commissioner Brian Jenkins has chosen not to seek re-election. Commission Chairman Roy Bledsoe has not issued a petition for District 4.
Jenkins said campaigning was more challenging as a learning process than physically demanding.
“Well, nothing worth doing’s ever easy,” he said. “It is what you make of it. If you want to be successful you’re going to have to work hard at it and get out and talk to a lot of people and knock on some doors and, you know, go where the people are to introduce yourself and kind of let them know what your point of view is about things and hopefully they’re up for supporting that way — lot of leg work.”
For a full list of current candidates, please refer to “May 2014 County Primary petition information” under the Information for Voters tab at http://www.loudoncountyvotes.com.
Eight-year Loudon County resident Richard Anklin said he first considered running for District 7 of the commission, currently held by Don Miller, back in August because he was concerned with the county’s property taxes.
“Anytime you run against an incumbent, you don’t want to run on a negative campaign,” he said. “I think Don (Miller) has fulfilled his role as commissioner of the last years in a very decent manner. I just think it’s time to have a change on the commission. I don’t want to run on a negative campaign against Don. … I want to focus on the taxes of the county and the spending of the county residents’ money. Can it be done any better?”
Anklin’s petition was issued Dec. 3. With about 13 names signed, he said he plans to turn in the paperwork next week. Email and flier distribution will be Anklin’s method of campaigning, he said.
Matthew Tinker will be running for District 2, Seat B of the commission, currently held by Rosemary Quillen.
“I would like to see our housing base continue to grow,” he said. “It has kind of stalled over the last few years and we’ve had several industries in Loudon County shut down over the last few years. I would like to work with the other county commissioners and the mayor to help bring in some new businesses to Loudon County and to … help some areas like Town Creek continue to put in stores and apartments and movie theaters, whatever they’re going to put in there to help just all things that would increase the tax base here.”
Tinker’s petition was issued Nov. 22. He said he started asking for signatures Dec. 4, and had five people sign the petition. Tinker said he plans to do door-to-door campaigning.
Sherri Colvard is vying for the county trustee seat. According to the Elections Commission, her petitioned was issued Nov. 26.
Colvard said she ran for county trustee four years ago, which she believes will help her in the months leading up to May. She has not decided how she wants to campaign. “I am more knowledgeable on running a campaign for this office,” she said.
Seeking the office
Noting his first fundraiser was Nov. 14, Loudon County Trustee Chip Miller said a contested primary election could “easily” cost a candidate $20,000. He believes candidates should have started preparing for the primary election “about six months ago.”
“I think anyone who wants to have a career in public service ought to have the opportunity to run, and I’m not running against anyone, I’m running for the position,” Miller said. “I think my experience as a small business owner has helped and will continue to help run a very efficient Loudon County trustee’s office.”
Miller’s petition was issued Nov. 22. He said he had surpassed the 25-signature minimum and expected to turn in his petition soon with about 50 names of registered voters.
Harrison said some candidates seek higher signature counts based on their belief of “great support in the community.”
Loudon County Road Superintendent Eddie Simpson said he submitted his petition Nov. 22 with 100 signatures.
“I think it makes a statement too that I’m serious about it,” Simpson said. “And I think people have confidence, you know, in that many people sign it that’s all — I just asked for enough space for 100 signatures and that’s what I took it back as.”
If re-elected, Simpson said he would like to “do a lot of paving in the county” because some roads are about 30 years old. He said he would fully commit to campaigning after he officially announced his candidacy in January.
“I just want to pick that up early, you know, just to make a statement and let people know I was going to run again, because the last election I didn’t come out until … actually two months before the primary, which was kind of at the last minute compared to everybody else,” Simpson said. “This time I want to come out and let people know I did intend to do another four-year term and hope I have their support.”