Silent supporters

A look at the people behind the candidates

You don’t see their faces on billboards or names prominently displayed in ads. The campaign managers, treasurers or untitled “driving force” behind the candidates in today’s election are doing their best jobs behind the scene.

But every candidate -- whether running for senate, judge or representative -- has someone they turn to for advice, someone they bounce ideas off and someone to get the day-to-day of campaigning organized.

Today is election day. Tonight, results will be in, and, for most of these races, November’s race is just a formality. Blount Today wanted to take a quick look at those faces you don’t see and give them one more chance to praise their chosen candidates. What follows is a Q&A with the person each candidate for Circuit Court judge, State Senate and State House of Representative identified as a significant person in their campaign, a manager or senior advisor, whether that person was a professional campaign coordinator, or simply a friend or spouse.

Here’s a look at the people behind the candidates:

Circuit Court Judge,

Division II

Judge David Duggan, Candidate for Circuit Court Judge

Name: Peggy Lambert, 67, of Maryville

Campaign co-chair

Relationship to candidate? Friend

How long have you known the candidate? 25 years

Approximately how many hours each day do you work the campaign?

“It varies from day to day, depending on what the activities are. Some days are very long and some are short.”

Why are you supporting the candidate?

“I believe in David and what he stands for. David is a conservative. We have shared values and beliefs as do the majority of people in Blount County.”

What’s the most humorous or memorable moment from the campaign trail?

“It has to be the subject of his shoes. We were at a reception, and I looked down and David had on a rather scruffy pair of shoes. They were awful. David looked so good from the ankles up, but the shoes were obviously his ‘comfortable’ ones. We had to say something to him. His wife bought him two new pairs of shoes the next day.”

Judge Mike Meares, Candidate for Circuit Court Judge

Name: Dick Cox, 76, of Maryville

Campaign manager

Relationship to candidate? Friend

How long have you known the candidate? 22 years.

Approximately how many hours each day do you work the campaign?

“It started out maybe a couple hours a day, and now it’s several hours a day. The closer it gets to election day, the more I work. I’m thinking about it 24 hours a day.”

Why are you supporting the candidate?

“I think he represents the values I hold and is important to the vision I see for Blount County. I have several adopted grandchildren -- two Filipino and one Hispanic. I would like it to be where they could come to Blount County and live here, grow and participate and be treated just like anybody else without discrimination based on their color or national origin. I don’t think we have that today. I see Mike as a public official who has that same vision and has demonstrated it. It’s important to him to respect everyone who comes before his court equally. He doesn’t represent special interest. Everybody plays by the same rules. That’s really important to me.”

What’s the most humorous or memorable moment from the campaign trail?

“I guess the thing that impressed me about this campaign is the collection of people who support Mike. I’m a lifelong Republican, and here I am supporting Mike. I see a broad cross-section of people who believe in the same things he does, who are putting aside the political parties and see Mike as the best candidate. That’s been one of the most encouraging things for me.”

State Senate

Jim Bishop, District 8 Senate candidate

Name: Jimmy Alan Jordan, 42, of Pigeon Forge

Campaign treasurer

Relationship to candidate? Friend/co-worker.

How long have you known the candidate? Four years

Approximately how many hours each day do you work the campaign?

“I work two jobs just to stay above water. I have had very little time to help Jim campaign. It amazes me how many hours he has spent considering how much he has to work, too.”

Why are you supporting the candidate?

“I believe in what he stands for: pro-life; pro-gun; pro-marriage; pro-secure borders;

anti-big government and anti-taxes. So many times, when candidates were too busy slinging mud to actually talk about issues, I have said, ‘I just wish there was a third candidate running so I could vote for him/her to teach the others a lesson.’ Now, we have such a choice. Not one of the opponents has had a bad word to say about Jim Bishop, yet they have had nothing good to say about each other. I hope everyone votes for Jim and sends a message to our politicians that enough is enough.”

What’s the most humorous or memorable moment from the campaign trail?

“While Jim has relayed some great stories about his experiences, I have none to tell from my limited campaigning.”

Sen. Raymond Finney, District 8 Senate candidate (incumbent)

Name: Ryan Poe, 21, of Maryville

Campaign manager

Relationship to candidate? Friend

How long have you known the candidate? Since May of this year.

Approximately how many hours each day do you work the campaign?

“I usually work around 10 hours a day, not counting Sundays. However, there is rarely a time when I’m not waiting for someone to return a call, or contacting volunteers.”

Why are you supporting the candidate?

“Sen. Finney is a true conservative leader I can trust. The differences between the candidates are clear to anyone who has researched their records in depth, as I have. As a conservative, my conscience won’t let me vote for anyone in this race except Sen. Finney.”

What’s the most humorous or memorable moment from the campaign trail?

“The most memorable moment, although not the happiest, was when I was chased by a dog. I walked up to a house to knock on their door and ask for their vote when this hell-hound came shooting like a rocket from behind the house. The dog lunged for my ankle, and I took off running down the driveway with the dog nipping at my heels. I made it safely out of the yard and kept running for another block before I stopped to catch my breath. The dog was obviously supporting the other candidate.”

Ira Lapides, District 8 Senate Candidate

Name: John Northcote, 58, of Gatlinburg

Campaign volunteer

Relationship to candidate? “When my wife and I moved here, we met Ira. We had a business in the Mountain Mall, and we became friends.”

How long have you known the candidate? 15 years

Approximately how many hours each day do you work the campaign?

“Maybe an hour a day.”

Why are you supporting the candidate?

“He has always, as long as I’ve known him, looked for what’s best for city of Gatlinburg and in the interest of the city over himself or specific individuals. I think he would make good choices in regards to what’s in the best interest of the public. The main reason I’ve gotten behind Ira is I feel the state of Tennessee could use a different direction on renewable energies. That’s a big part of why I support Ira. He wants to push for the state helping to subsidize solar and wind energy. That’s the direction the state of Tennessee is headed and needs to go.”

What’s the most humorous or memorable moment from the campaign trail?

“Ira definitely has a sense of humor, and I guess his sense of humor is what I like most about Ira.”

Doug Overbey, District 8 Senate Candidate

Name: Adam Jaynes, 22, of Knoxville

Election coordinator

Relationship to candidate? “I met him through a family friend a while back and really believed in him and respected him.”

How long have you known the candidate? “Six months to a year.”

Approximately how many hours each day do you work the campaign?

“I probably work about 12 hours a day.”

Why are you supporting the candidate?

“I believe in Doug Overbey. He gets the job done. He’s going to get the best results. He’s the most effective Republican member of the State House, and he will continue to be effective in the State Senate.”

What’s the most humorous or memorable moment from the campaign trail?

“Probably the most memorable moment for me was the first time we went door-to-door. It was 99 degrees outside, and we had been going door-to-door for about four to five hours. Doug looks at me and says, ‘Man, isn’t it great getting out and being able to talk to people where they are and getting to know them on a personal level?’ The other time was when he was giving a proclamation for Hope for Today (cancer support group). Just to see how much he cared about the people in that organization. That was very touching.”

State House of

Representatives

Tona Monroe-Ball, District 20 State House Candidate

Name: Troy Ball, 31, of Greenback

Campaign volunteer

Relationship to candidate? Husband

How long have you known the candidate? Seven years.

Approximately how many hours each day do you work the campaign?

“It depends on what days I’m off from work. It varies, anything from a couple hours to 10.”

Why are you supporting the candidate?

“Because she’s the strongest candidate out there, the one who connects to the majority of people.”

What’s the most humorous or memorable moment from the campaign trail?

“Just to see how much determination and drive Tona has. If she sets her mind to doing something, she’ll do it.”

Steve Hargis, District 20 State House Candidate

Name: Janie Hargis, 58, of Friendsville

Campaign volunteer

Relationship to candidate? Wife

How long have you known the candidate?

“Forty years, and we’ve been married 36 years.”

Approximately how many hours each day do you work the campaign?

“Just when he needs something done. I try to help him. I work and keep my grandchildren and do this in- between.”

Why are you supporting the candidate?

“I think he will try to help the community. That’s what he’s done on the commission and, if he gets elected, he’ll work as hard or harder than he has a commission.”

What’s the most humorous or memorable moment from the campaign trail?

“He’s excited about it. It’s just fun, seeing him get excited about it. If that what he want to do, I’m all for it.”

Jim Melton, District 20 State House Candidate

Name: Kenneth Melton, 70, of Louisville.

Senior advisor

Relationship to candidate? Brother

How long have you known the candidate? “All his life!”

Approximately how many hours each day do you work the campaign?

“Jim calls, and we confer back and forth. I go out every once in a while helping him. He’s got other people helping him, too.”

Why are you supporting the candidate?

“I’m his brother, but I think Jim would do an excellent job and is very knowledgeable as far as finances. He has worked in finance a number of years and knows his numbers. He keeps up to date with what’s going on in the state and county as well as on the federal level. He’s very interested in being a public servant. That interest goes back years and years.”

What’s the most humorous or memorable moment from the campaign trail?

“He was out one day canvassing and knocking on doors and came up to a house where there was a big old dog. It came around the side of the house, and it frightened him. It wasn’t a vicious dog. He stepped back, forgot about a shrub and stumbled and fell back. The lady come out and looked down and Jim said, ‘It sure is a blue sky and nice day.’ She laughed, and he did, too.”

Bob Ramsey, District 20 State House Candidate

Name: Margaret Ramsey, 60, of Maryville

Campaign volunteer

Relationship to candidate? Wife

How long have you known the candidate? Married to Ramsey for 38 years

Approximately how many hours each day do you work the campaign?

“Quite a lot. We work together in the office. I’ve gone out and put up signs. You’d be surprised how many people we get to talk to who come through the office.”

Why are you supporting the candidate?

“I would have to say I feel he’s the most qualified candidate. He has a lot of experience, and he’s always been there for the community.”

What’s the most humorous or memorable moment from the campaign trail?

“It’s all the support we’ve been given. It’s been kind of overwhelming to see that people have put that much faith in my husband.”

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