The 2010 political season is beginning in earnest as local candidates are picking up petitions at the Blount County Election Commission to run for various offices.
The chairs for the Blount County Democratic and Republican parties are aiming to have strong candidates in their May primaries, and both say they hope for good results in the August general election.
Tony Webb, Blount County Democratic Party chair, said his party is looking for people in the community who feel they need to share “the word of change” in Blount County. “There are going to be more people picking up petitions, and we look forward to anyone who would like to pick up those petitions to join us in changing the landscape of Blount County politics,” he said. “At this point I’m looking at all county seats, and I would respect anyone who would step forward and submit their name to that.”
Susan Mills, Blount County Republican Party chair, said she is confident the party will have candidates vying for each seat. “That’s certainly our goal. We are going to offer good, solid, conservative candidates. That is what people want, and I think they’ll stick with our party because of that,” she said.
Autumn Hall, co-president with League of Women Voters of Blount County, said the group plans to survey the candidates before the May primary. “The League of Women Voters of Blount County (which is composed of both men and women) is taking the main focus of trying to educate voters and inform voters of Blount County to know more about the candidates and know more about the issues so they can make informed choices,” Hall said.
Patty DeRycke, co-president of the league, said they hope to also hold forums for the candidates so the public can get to know each of them better. “All of that is in the planning stages at this point. Those are things we want to do,” she said. “Our concern is to educate the voters and help them be aware of how the candidates feel about the issues and make their decisions based on that that information.”
As of Monday morning, Nov. 23, 18 Republicans and one Democrat had picked up petitions for the primary election in May. Jerome Moon, Republican, and Brandon Cook were among those who picked up petitions. Petitions often indicate an intent to run, but can also be just an exploratory action. Candidates have until Feb. 18 to file to run for local and state seats.
Jerome Moon, 62, was born and raised in Maryville before serving with distinction for six years in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. Afterward he earned a bachelor of science degree with high honors from the University of Tennessee and worked at The Daily Times for 17 years, retiring as publisher. He served as chair of the Blount County Industrial Board, co-owned a community newspaper and continues to volunteer with the Pellissippi State Foundation.
He and his wife, Debbie Bradford Moon, have two daughters, Sarah Spinosa of Memphis and Amy Dunaway of Knoxville.
Moon is considering a run in District 4 seat C, which is currently held by Wendy Pitts Reeves. “Since August I’ve been talking to people in the 4th District, hearing their concerns about county government,” he said. “If my experience and background will help meet those needs, then I’ll be a candidate,” he said.
Moon is holding off on making an official announcement until the deadline for filing, which is noon on Feb. 18. “I’m still learning everyday, and I think I’ve got until noon on the 18th of February to continue to learn,” he said.
Brandon Cook, 29, a Democrat, has picked up a petition to run for District 1 Seat A, which is currently held by Tonya Burchfield. Cook, who ran for county commission unsuccessfully in 2002 and served as chair of the Blount County Democratic Party in 2006, said he graduated the University of Tennessee with a degree in political science with an emphasis on state and local politics.
“I care about Blount County and Tennessee. I think now is the right time to do it,” Cook said. “I’ve got a good, steady job, and I’m ready to make Blount County better. I’ve got a slew of supporters ready to get out and work and get this campaign going. We’re going to hold quite a few fundraisers in the spring. People are ready to go on this campaign and I’m excited about it.”
Cook, who has a 7-year-old son, Mason, works at Clayton Bank and Trust in Knoxville.
The following individuals have picked up petitions for the May 4 primary election:
• Phyllis Crisp, Republican, Maryville, register of deeds;
• Robert Headrick, Republican, Maryville, General Sessions Judge Div. 4 (incumbent);
• Tom Hatcher, Republican, Maryville, Circuit Court Clerk (incumbent);
• Bill Dunlap, Republican, Maryville, Highway Superintendent (incumbent);
• Roy Crawford Jr., Republican, Maryville, County Clerk (incumbent);
• James Berrong, Republican, Maryville, Sheriff (incumbent);
• Brandon Cook, Democrat, Maryville, County Commission, District 1, Seat A;
• Robert Michael Lewis, Republican, Alcoa, District 2, Seat B (incumbent);
• Steve Samples, Republican, Maryville, County Commission, District 3, Seat A (incumbent);
• Gary Farmer, Republican, Maryville, County Commission, District 4, Seat A (incumbent);
• Peggy Lambert, Republican, Maryville, County Commission, District 5, Seat A (incumbent);
• Rick Carver, Republican, Maryville, County Commission, District 5, Seat B;
• Steve Hargis, Republican, Friendsville, County Commission, District 7, Seat A (incumbent);
• Roy Gamble, Republican, Maryville, County Commission, District 8, Seat A;
• James E. Taylor, Republican, Maryville, County Commission, District 8, Seats A and B.