published Monday, December 19th, 2011

Open posts attract vote challengers in Grundy County

  • photo
    Jeff Harmon, a public defender for the 12th Judicial District
    Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ELECTION INFORMATION


• Feb. 6, 2012: Last day of voter registration

• Feb. 15, 2012: Early voting begins

• Feb. 28, 2012: Early voting ends

• March 6, 2012: Election day

• Poll hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST

Source: Grundy County Election Commission

An unexpired seat on the Grundy County Commission, the property assessor's post and the 12th Judicial District public defender's seat will be on the ballot for March 2012 primary elections, according to officials.

The resignation of former County Commission Chairman Ralph Rieben in January created a vacancy filled in March by the appointment of Jeremy Stone. Rieben resigned his post over disagreements on the commission about what to do with the county's aging jail.

Stone, one of five nominees for Rieben's seat when he was appointed last winter, is not seeking to keep the post for the remainder of its two-year term.

The vacancy has drawn nominating papers from Republican candidate Wayne Harris and Democratic candidate Kelly Foutch, Grundy County Administrator of Elections Donna Basham said.

Election records show Foutch unsuccessfully ran as an independent for county mayor in August 2010 but lost to present seat holder Lonnie Cleek.

In the property assessor's race, incumbent Democrat Joanne Childers will face Republican challenger Iva Michelle Russell and independent challenger Phillip Stephens, according to Basham.

Stephens now is a Gruetli-Laager alderman and county constable, records show. If he wins, he will have to resign as constable, Basham said.

In the 12th Judicial District public defender's race, Jeff Harmon, who was appointed to the seat after longtime Public Defender Phil Condra retired earlier this year, has filed for the Democratic primary, records show.

Harmon said Wednesday that he was glad to wind up unopposed for the March primary and August general elections.

"I am thankful for the confidence that the people of this district have shown in me by allowing me to serve as district public defender and in allowing me to serve for the following two years after the August elections," Harmon said. He will serve until the next judicial district elections in August 2014.

There has been little early interest in any of the races, Basham said.

"We've had very few questions so far," she said, but voter interest should start climbing after the holidays.

Meanwhile, Basham said, there have been few problems so far with new state requirements that everyone have a photo ID to vote. An open meeting was held in November for voters to learn details, she said.

"It seems like everybody's pretty OK with it," she said. But she's worried that a lot of people will wait until the last minute to get a photo ID.

"I wouldn't wait," she advised, "because you never know what the weather's going to do up here."

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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