Retired Maryville Fire Chief Ed Mitchell won the Republican nomination for mayor of Blount County over incumbent Mayor Jerry Cunningham in Tuesday’s primary by a few over 1,000 votes, 4,916 to 3,851.
Two longtime county commissioners will also not be back as District 7, Seat A Commissioner Steve Hargis lost to Jim Folts by a 660 to 382 margin; and Gordon Wright, Sr., beat incumbent commissioner Mike Walker in District 8, Seat B by 21 votes (632 to 611).
It was low voter turnout that had many concerned after polls closed.
Blount County Republican Chair Susan Mills said she was disappointed by the low voter turnout when, in a county with 67,000 registered voters, only 9,346 votes were cast. “It’s disappointing the level of interest in our county-wide elections,” she said.
In the Democratic primary, there were seven candidates, all who were unopposed. A total of 325 votes were cast in the Democratic primary.
In District 1, Seat A, Brandon Cook received 58 votes and will face Republican Tonya Burchfield (250 votes) in August. Incumbent David Ballard (50 votes) will face challenger Shawn Carter (232 votes) in the general election.
Republican Jerome Moon received 961 votes to Republican challenger Billy Gribble’s 474 and will face incumbent Wendy Pitts Reeves, who received 60 votes, in August. Richard Carver (715 votes) is challenging incumbent Dr. Bob Proffitt (48 votes).
Holden Lail won the nomination for District 6, Seat A with 393 votes to Steve Hicks 225 and Sheri Turner’s 166. He will face Gary Wynn, who received 31 votes in the Democratic primary.
District 7, Seat B will have a new commissioner as Tom Greene (602 votes) defeated Tom Cole (408) in the primary and will face Democratic candidate Linda Jo Dees, 42 votes. Gerald Kirby received 401 votes and will face Democrat party chair Tony Webb, who received 36 votes.
County Mayor Jerry Cunningham pledged to support Mitchell in the general election. “What do you say? I’m going to support Ed Mitchell, that’s what I say. Ed’s opponent is not a Republican,” he said. “I’m going to support Ed Mitchell because he’s the only Republican in the race in August.”
The mayor said in politics these kinds of situations happen. “It’s the democratic system. The voters want new leadership, and I’ll support Ed Mitchell in the transition,” he said.
Mitchell said that even though early voting results showed him with a lead that only continued to grow as more precincts reported, he refused to celebrate. “I wasn’t going to assume I won the election until the final vote came in,” he said. “When the vote came in, and I was declared the winner, I don’t know how to explain how excited I was.”
The retired Maryville Fire chief said he was thankful that the citizens of Blount County gave him a vote of confidence. “I take that very seriously, and I hope I will in no way disappoint the voters or make them regret anything I’ve done,” he said.
Mitchell thanked his wife, Kim, and his family for supporting him. “I’ve been gone on the campaign trail since three days after Christmas until 4 o’clock today, and I couldn’t have done it without their help,” he said.
Mitchell said as he gears up to run against Independent Howard Kerr in the Aug. 5 General Election, the former fire chief said he wants to focus on a three areas - economic development, the county’s debt and education funding and standards.
Kim Mitchell said she was proud of her husband’s win. “He definitely deserves the victory. This has been a very admirable campaign on both sides,” she said.
Mitchell said he will take the next few weeks off to spend time with family before he gets back on the campaign trail for another three months in preparation for the Aug. 5 general election. “I’m going to wake up everyday like I’m 500 votes behind. I never want to get comfortable. Comfortable gets you beat every time,” he said.
In the District 4, Seat B race, Commissioner Mark Hasty won his race against Kimberly D. Russell by a margin of 845 -567. “I was pleased with the win but I was disappointed in the number that turned out to vote,” Hasty said.
In the District 3, Seat B race for a seat being vacated by State Representative candidate Joe McCulley, Mike Caylor beat Jim Melton by a margin of 413 - 347.
In District 4, Seat A, incumbent Gary Farmer beat challenger Jerry L. Harvey by a margin of 1,006 to 436.
In District 7, Seat A, challenger Jim Folts beat incumbent Steve Hargis 660 to 382.
In District 8, Seat A, Roy Gamble won 502 votes to James Taylor’s 415 and John Carlton Templeton’s 292.
In District 8, Seat B, Gordon E. Wright Sr. beat incumbent Mike Walker by a margin of 632 to 611.
In the District 2, Seat A race, Brad Harrison won 462 votes and has no competition in the general election.
In the District 2, Seat B race, Mike Lewis took 466 votes and has no competition in the general election.
In the District 5, Seat A race, incumbent Peggy Lambert won 771 votes and must face Independent Izaak Standridge in August.
In District 9, Seat A, Ron W. French got 535 votes and has no competition in the August general election.
In the District 9, Seat B race, Monika Murrell won 560 votes and has no competition in the August general election.
In the District 10, Seat B race, Kenneth Melton won 381 votes and has no competition in the general campaign.
The constitutional officers also were unopposed and their results were follows: Incumbent Scott Graves, county trustee, 7,190; Robert L. Headrick, General Sessions judge, 6,729.
Sheriff James Berrong got 7,074 votes and Circuit Court clerk Tom Hatcher got 6,523 votes. County Clerk Roy Crawford Jr. received 7,405 votes.
Phyllis Crisp, an employee of the Register of Deeds office who is running for retiring registrar Penny Whaley’s job, garnered 7,086 votes and is unopposed and in the general election.
Bill Dunlap, road superintendent, won 7,371 votes and is unopposed in the General Election.