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Early voting open until Aug. 1

Election Administrator Sarah Fain prepares for early voting, which continues until Aug. 1. (Erwin Record Staff Photo Richard Rourk)

*Editor’s note: This article has been changed from the print version to correct an error in the list of candidates running for Town of Erwin mayor in November. The current list of candidates includes Glenn White, Michael Baker and Daniel Crouch. Glenn Fisher is not currently running for Erwin mayor. The Erwin Record regrets the error.

By Richard Rourk

Statewide election races have started to heat up since early voting began on July 17 for the Aug. 6 election.

According to Unicoi County Election Commission Administrator Sarah Fain, the early response is a promising sign.

“We have seen 571 votes come through of the roughly 10,000 register voters in Unicoi County over the past few days of early voting,” Fain said on Monday, July 20. “We had 100 voters vote by mail and 471 vote in person. This is a huge uptick in numbers from previous years for mail votes and residents will have until July 30 to vote by mail.”

Fain has been impressed with the COVID-19 safety measures of the staff as well as the voters.

“We are not required to wear masks to vote, but most people have worn masks and everyone has been good at being courteous and practicing social distancing,” Fain said. 

The Aug. 6 primary contains several races. Citizens are voting for primary candidates for a U.S. Senate seat that includes a field of five Democrats and 14 Republicans. 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.

There are a few local races on the Aug. 6 ballot. Those in the District 2 precinct of Unicoi County will vote for two seats on the Unicoi County Board of Education. District 2 voters cast their ballots at Unicoi County High School and Rock Creek Elementary School.

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.

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.

• • •

Races in the towns of Erwin and Unicoi will be decided on Nov. 3.

Currently, Glenn White, Baker and Daniel Crouch are vying for Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley’s seat, according to information from the Unicoi County Election Commission. Hensley recently announced plans to retire at the end of her term.

Alderwoman Rachelle Hyder-Shurtz is the only candidate so far in the race for two open seats on Erwin’s alderman race.

In the Town of Unicoi, Alderwoman Kathy Bullen is the only candidate so far for mayor.

Current Alderman Jeff Linville, as well as Deborah Bennett and Charles Cooper are vying for two alderman seats in the Town of Unicoi.

Candidates have until Aug. 20 (at noon) to qualify for the Nov. 3 election.