By Richard Rourk
Election time is around the corner and the Unicoi County Election Commission is prepared despite COVID-19.
“Our office is continuing to do everything we can to protect the voters and candidates,” Unicoi County Election Administrator Sarah Fain said. “We will be wearing masks and we encourage visitors to our office and voters to do the same.”
Along with safety measures, the Unicoi County Election Commission will assist any voters who wish to vote by mail. A Tennessee court recently ruled that changes have been made to allow for more voters to vote by mail. Interested individuals should visit sos.tn.gov.
“The court decision to allow voters to request a ballot due to COVID-19 has been stayed by the appellate court so it is still allowed,” Fain said. “Voters need to fill a request for ballot out completely and then drop it off, mail it, fax it, or scan/photograph it and email it to us. We must receive it by July 30. Newly registered voters need to either register in person or vote in person the first time they vote.”
According to Fain, there are several seats up for grabs in the coming weeks and months.
“We had our qualifying deadline for August on April 2,” Fain said “For November the qualifying deadline is Aug. 20 (at noon). The municipal offices up for election in November are mayor and two aldermen in both the Town of Erwin and the Town of Unicoi.”
According to Fain, voters will have several choices to make on Aug. 6.
“Voters can choose to vote in the Republican or Democratic primary for state/federal offices and everyone will vote in the county general,” Fain said. “Those in District 2 (UCHS and Rock Creek precincts) will vote for school board.”
Current Unicoi County Board of Education member Glenn Fisher is seeking reelection to the panel. Also vying for a seat on the school board in the Aug. 6 election are Michael Baker and Allan Foster.
Also in August, incumbent Teresa Tipton Kinsler is running unopposed for Unicoi County Assessor of Property.
Citizens are voting for primary candidates for a U.S. Senate seat that includes a field of five democrats and 14 republicans on Aug. 6. The field of democrats includes Marquita Bradshaw, Gary Davis, Robin Kimbrough, James Mackler and Mark Pickrell. The field of republicans includes Clifford Adkins, Natisha Brooks, Byron Bush, Roy Dale Cope, Terry Dicus, Tom Emerson Jr., George Flinn Jr., Bill Hagerty, Jon Henry, Kent Morrell, Glen Neal Jr., John Osborne, Aaron Pettigrew, David Schuster and Manny Sethi.
The primary for the U.S. House of Representatives District 1 seat will also take place on Aug. 6. This race includes three democrats and 16 republicans vying to replace U.S. Representative Phil Roe who is retiring at the conclusion of his term. The field for democrats includes Chris Rowe, Larry Smith and Blair Walsingham. For the republicans, Jay Adkins, Phil Arlinghaus, Richard Baker, Chance Cansler, John Clark, Rusty Crowe, Steve Darden, Chad Fleenor, Robert Franklin, Josh Gapp, Diana Harshbarger, David Hawk, Timothy Hill, Chuck Miller, Carter Quillen and Nichole Williams are listed on the ballot for District 1.
Early voting for the Aug. 6 election will be held at the Unicoi County Election Commission from July 17 through Aug. 1. Voting will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
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Several candidates have entered the local mayor and aldermen races set for Nov. 3.
In Erwin, the race to fill the seat that will be vacated once Mayor Doris Hensley completes this term includes Michael Baker, Daniel Crouch and Glenn White. The only candidate currently in the race for one of the two aldermen seats up for grabs in Erwin is incumbent Rachelle Hyder-Shurtz.
In the Town of Unicoi, the only paperwork that has been submitted to the Unicoi County Election Commission is by current alderwoman Kathy Bullen, who is running for mayor. There are also two aldermen seats up for grabs in Unicoi.