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Hensley: County needs healing

By Kayla Carter
and Keeli Parkey
Staff Writers
Mike Hensley will continue to serve as sheriff of Unicoi County after the Unicoi County Election Commission released unofficial general election and state and federal primary results Thursday night.
With an unofficial total of 2,487 votes, Hensley defeated Jim Lengel, who received 1,527 votes.
Hensley was selected by the Unicoi County Commission to fill on an interim basis the vacancy left by former Sheriff Kent Harris upon Harris’ resignation on March 1.
After the results were announced, Hensley said he felt the county has confidence in his ability to perform the duties of sheriff.
“I am very honored that the people in this county put enough confidence and trust in me to be their sheriff,” Hensley said. “It’s been a long road. Even before I was appointed sheriff, we’ve had a lot of problems at the sheriff’s department.”
Hensley said that the county is currently going through a healing process.
“I believe that the county needs some healing and we’re in that process,” Hensley said. “As the elected sheriff, I intend to do my part to help that get done.”
Hensley said he hopes his presence and performance in the county will aid in the process.
“My part to help the healing process is to get out among the citizens of this county, let them see they have a working sheriff; take care of the problems that arise in the county; get back with those victims that are victims of crime; get the schools, the SROs, the DARE program back up and running,” he said.
“Of course you know we had that cut and I had to budget that. We had grants before. Now we had to budget that within our budget. Even by doing that we are going in with approximately $60,000 less this year than the past budget.”
Hensley also stated that the department will continue to combat drugs in the county.
“We’ve worked very hard on the drugs here in the county and we have taken care of some serious problems within the county,” Hensley said. “And we are going to continue to do that.”
Lengel commented on the election immediately following the results. “Obviously, I am disappointed,” Lengel said. “I congratulate Mike and I wish him the best.” He said it was too soon to determine if he will run again in two years, which is when the unexpired term of Harris will be over.
In the race for Unicoi County assessor of property, unopposed candidate Patsy Tipton Bennett received 3,356 votes. Winning the two seats for the county school board are unopposed candidates Tyler Engle with 629 votes and Lisa White with 963 votes.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker received 1,910 votes to win the local Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
Park Overall was the top vote-getter in the county’s Democratic U.S. Senate primary with 140 votes.
The overall voter turnout for the election was 36 percent, which equals 4,071 voters.