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Three join race for assessor

Election time is around the bend.
According to the Unicoi County Election Commission, three candidates have qualified for the ballot in the upcoming assessor of property race in Unicoi County. Wayne Peterson, interim assessor, along with J. Alan “Rocky” McInturff and Margaret Seward filed papers to run in the March 1 primary election.
James Edwin Lauderback was the only person to file papers for next year’s election for the position of Circuit Court Judge of the First Judicial District, including the counties of Carter, Johnson, Washington and Unicoi.
The Unicoi County Election Commission convened in a regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15, and approved the petitions, unanimously, for all candidates to run for the upcoming primary.
The Unicoi County Commission voted to place Peterson as the new assessor on April 27 of this year to serve the remaining term for previous assessor Patsy Bennett. Bennett resigned from her position on April 2 citing health concerns. Seward currently works in the County Clerk’s office at the courthouse, while McInturff serves as a realtor in the area.
All three candidates will run as Republicans in the primary.
Lauderback accepted the judge’s position after being appointed to the post by Gov. Bill Haslam following the retirement of Thomas Seeley Jr. on June 30.
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Tuesday’s meeting also saw the Election Commission resume their discussion of changing the location of the Unicoi Intermediate School voting precinct to the Unicoi County High School cafeteria. After discussion, members voted unanimously to move the precinct to the high school. The precinct’s name was also changed to “high school precinct.” The change will be effective immediately for the upcoming March primary.
“March and August aren’t going to have huge turnouts compared to November,” Sarah Bailey, administrator of elections, said Tuesday. “This would give us two elections to identify issues so by November, it could be a smooth transition.”
Bailey pointed out to the panel that out of the 1,982 precincts in the state, 689 are at schools.
According to documents from the state, election commissions have the right to use a public building if it is supported by public funding and serves as an assistance to the voters.
Additional signs and having volunteers at both schools to direct voters to the correct location should ease the transition, Bailey said.
“The school board met in a work session and were 100-percent supportive of the idea,” she said. “They felt if we saw it as way to help the voters, they were supportive of it.”
While discussing the change, Commissioner Paul Monk addressed the potential issue of parking. Bailey responded by stating the voters and workers would use the Okolona Drive entrance to the school, leading to the cafeteria, which would bypass the normal traffic incurred at the intermediate school.
“If school is in session, I’ve already talked to Mr. (Chris) Bogart and Mr. John English, they’re going to mark of handicapped spots,” Bailey said.
She added that the first section of parking spots, typically reserved for seniors, would be marked off for voters. Those seniors would receive tags to park in the faculty parking lot.