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Political parties request primaries

Election time is around the bend in Unicoi County.
The Executive Committees of the Unicoi County Republican and Democratic parties recently met and agreed to request that the Unicoi County Election Commission hold Republican and Democratic primaries for local offices on March 1, 2016 to coincide with the Presidential preference primary (PPP).
According to documents provided from the county’s Election Commission, “state law requires a county political party executive committee to give a county Election Commission original written notice at least 180 days before the qualifying deadline if they intend to hold a county primary for all or some of the county offices eligible for a primary election.”
The last day to give notice for a political party primary (PPP) was June 15. The qualifying date for the 2016 primary is Dec. 10, 2015 at noon.
Unicoi County’s original date to have a county primary election was set for May 3. The move to host the county’s primary along with the PPP allows Unicoi County to save local tax dollars with election expenses being used through state reimbursements instead of the county paying for the separate election on a different day than the PPP.
“This is the first year we had to meet and give that type of notice,” said Jim Buchanan, chairman of the Unicoi County Republican Party. “Look for other surrounding counties to do the same.”
Mike Hampton, chairman of the Unicoi County Democratic Party, shared the same sentiments as Buchanan, saying the addition of a primary during the PPP could potentially save the county around $20,000.
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The only local office that will go through a primary vote is for the position of Assessor of Property in Unicoi County.
The Unicoi County Commission accepted the resignation of Patsy Bennett, who was elected to the position in 2008, on March 23 with Bennett citing health problems as the cause of stepping down.
On April 27, Wayne Peterson was appointed as the interim assessor by a 5-3 vote from County Commission.
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The March 1 primary also allows voters to select their Presidential preference for the Democratic or Republican nominees. Prior the The Erwin Record’s press deadline, the Republican party had 10 nominees vying for their party’s nomination, while four Democratic nominees announced their Presidential campaigns.
Highlighting the current pool of Democrats is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Also running are Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee.
“It is an exciting time for the Democratic party,” Hampton said. “Ever since the last election, I feel this could be the a good year for the Congress and Senate and the opportunity to have the first woman President.”
Featured on the GOP list are current U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Rick Perry, George Pataki, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum add to the list as individuals who previously served as a governor or senator. Carly Fiorina, a former business executive, and Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, also publicly stated they are seeking the Republican party’s nomination. Other prominent party members include former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and businessman Donald Trump.