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Early voting begins this week

Early voting begins this week in which voters in the town of Erwin and Unicoi will choose aldermen.
In other races of importance, voters will also choose Tennessee’s next governor, a U.S. representative, state representative and state senator.
In the Unicoi race, three men are vying for the two seats up for election on the Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
Incumbents Ken Kisiel and Mark Ramsey face opposition from Michael “Bobby” Phillips.
Ramsey was first elected alderman in 2002, and Kisiel has served since 2006.
In the Erwin race, seven men are in the running for the three seats up for election on the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
Incumbents Lester Bailey Jr., Gary Chandler and Mark Lafever are seeking their second terms to elected office.
Only Lafever, though, has ever been elected to office, as Bailey and Chandler were both appointed to the board by Mayor Brushy Lewis.
Bailey was appointed Jan. 28, 2008, after Alderman Ronnie Adkins resigned after moving out of the town limits.
Chandler was appointed to the board Oct. 26, 2009, after the resignation of Alderman Edd Bolton.
All three sitting aldermen – Bailey, Chandler and Lafever – face a challenge from four men, including a former alderman.
Jim Stevens, who served two years after being appointed to the board by Mayor Russell Brackins, ran unsuccessfully for a full term in 2006, but his name will, once again, appear on the ballot.
Newcomers to politics Rob Martin, Shane O’Hare and Robie Sullins Jr. round out the seven-man contest, making the race one of the largest for alderman in recent memory.
Early voting will be held from Oct. 13-28 at the Unicoi County Election Commission office, located at 106 Nolichucky Ave. in historic downtown Erwin.
Administrator of Elections Sarah Bailey encouraged residents to take advantage of early voting hours, which are available 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-noon on Saturdays.
“It’s always a good idea to get out early and vote in case something happens on Election Day,” Bailey said, “and if people have address or name changes, we can process those things much more quickly if they come in during early voting.”
In addition to the aldermen races, countywide voters are voting for Tennessee’s next governor, who will succeed Gov. Phil Bredesen.
Republican Bill Haslam, a businessman and current mayor of Knoxville, faces Democrat Mike McWherter, a businessman and son of former Gov. Ned McWherter.
While Haslam and McWherter are the most prominent names in the race for governor, there are 14 Independent candidates in the running.
Republican Phil Roe is facing opposition from Democrat Michael Clark and Independent Kermit Steck in his race to win a second term to the U.S. House of Representatives.
State Rep. David Hawk, a Republican, is opposed by Independent Karen Brackett. State Sen. Steve Southerland, a Republican, is opposed by Democrat Jackson “Jack” West.
There is also a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot in which voters choose yes or no to an amendment saying “citizens … have the personal right to hunt and fish.”
Election Day is Nov. 2.