published Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Grundy County voters will pick District 3 successor

Grundy County voters in County Commission District 3 will vote in August on a replacement candidate for the post vacated last month by Earl Geary Jr., according to officials.

Geary was the Grundy County Commission chairman until he tendered his resignation effective March 26, citing waning passion for the job and an increasingly busy work schedule.

District 1 County Commissioner Michael Brady said Tuesday that the county panel hasn't decided how it will approach filling the vacancy.

"One question we have is, 'Do we have to fill the vacancy before the election?' It's kind of hard to appoint someone for three months whenever he or she might not have any idea about what we're facing," Brady said of issues such as the county's need for a solution to its aging jail.

Brady said he and some other commissioners would like to leave the seat open until August.

"We may be off about seven days with the time limitation [requiring commissioners to appoint a replacement]," he said. "I think the mayor [Lonnie Cleek] is trying to find out if we can leave it open for the voters to decide."

Commissioners probably will start discussing the post at a monthly workshop set April 19, he said.

Administrator of Elections Donna Basham said Grundy's Republican and Democratic parties can caucus to choose nominees during a special qualifying period that exists under state law for 55 days before the Aug. 2 election.

A candidate also may file a qualifying petition by deadline to run as an independent, Basham said. Either way, the deadline for nominee selection or an independent petition is noon CST on June 8, she said.

"In the meantime, the County Commission will probably have to appoint someone in that position who will serve until Sept. 1 [when the newly elected commissioner takes office]," she said.

"For the person they [county commissioners] appoint, if he or she wants to run, they can either run through the political party process or they can run independently," she said.

The winner of the seat in August will hold the post until the next county general election in August 2014.

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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