More than 350 came by the Greenbelt Pavilion Saturday, many of them sporting “I Voted” stickers. All were treated to a barbecue lunch with all the fixings, catered by Countryside Restaurant in Vonore.
The host was Judge Mike Meares who is running to keep his seat at Circuit Court judge.
The rally and BBQ was held at the Greenbelt Pavilion behind the Blount County Courthouse.
Meares said he was pleased with the turnout. “I was also pleased with the diversity of the group that assembled. For me, there were a lot of new faces I hadn’t met earlier in the campaign,” he said.
The judge said the best estimate for the crowd was from a friend of his, Max Willocks from Countryside Restaurant, who prepared the food. He said he bought 200 pounds of barbecue and served all but 2 pounds of it. He estimated he served 350 people,” Meares said. “It’s humbling to find people are supporting you not only for who you are but also for what you stand for.”
Tony Webb, vice chair of the Blount County Democratic Party, said the party is fighting against what they see as the old Blount County. “I think it’s great for Blount County to see that change can occur,” he said.
Lucy Sherrod with the Meares campaign said she was pleased with the turnout at the rally. “We have a packed parking lot,” she said. Sherrod said the campaign has involved a lot of groundwork, and Judge Meares is putting in time every night walking in neighborhoods.
“He’s going door-to-door, and he’s making phone calls as well,” she said.
Party chair Dave Finch said that as he has driven through Blount County, he seeing a lot of yard signs for Meares. “We’re getting quite a bit of calls asking for information,” he said. “I think we’ve got a lot of momentum.”
Nina Gregg said she happy people are concerned about the judicial race. “I’m happy people are concerned about integrity and fairness in our courts,” she said.
Mary Nitkoski was pleased to see the diverse crowd. “That’s very encouraging,” she said.
Lynnette Montalvo from Union City, N.J., said she was a friend of Meares. “I wish I could vote for him. I’ve known Mike for 11 years,” she said.
Peter Nerzak from Louisville said the election is very important. “I think it will make a big difference in the courthouse to keep things fair and open, and he will make sure the rules are applied as they are written and not as someone would like them to apply.”
Lon Fugate of Maryville said he’s known Meares as long as anyone and said Meares has an excellent chance of winning the election. “He’s going to make a difference,” Fugate said.
Joe King said the diverse turnout shows the support Meares has in the community. “He’s not part of the machine,” King said. “He’s the people’s judge, not the mayor’s judge.”
Gerrae Messer said Meares has worked hard throughout the campaign. “I’ve never seen a candidate work like Mike,” she said. “People are responding well, Democrats, Republicans and Independents are responding well.”