published Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Marion County primary ballot loaded on Democrats' side

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one in a series of stories on contested races in area county primary elections.

There is only one contested race in Marion County's Republican primary but the Democratic primary is loaded with battles for county mayor, County Commission, Juvenile Court judge, county clerk, trustee and register of deeds.

Turnout so far has been light, according to Administrator of Elections Gary Reams.

"It's a little lower than usual," Reams said Friday.

He said 1,422 voters had cast their ballots in early voting as of Thursday.

People are talking about races, though.

Reams said the Democratic primary for register of deeds has been generating the most talk since it's a five-way race for the seat left open by retiring current office holder Winfred Haggard. There is one unopposed Republican candidate for the seat who will face the Democratic winner in August.

"The mayor's race is what I heard people talking about at the car show at the Cornbread Festival [in South Pittsburg on Saturday]," Reams said.


Democrat and incumbent John Graham is facing challenger David Jackson for the county mayor's slot on the August ballot. The winner of that primary will face lone Republican hopeful Paul West in August.


With Haggard's exit, four men and one woman are facing off for the Democratic slot in August versus the one Republican on the ballot, Fredrick T. Newcom. Jerome L. Burnett, Delmer L. McNabb, Carl Mount, William Robert Payne and Debra "Debbie" Pittman are battling for the Democrats' top billing in August.


Incumbent Dwight Minter is dueling with challenger Don "YoYo" Willis for the county clerk's seat. The winner will face Republican Vernon Coffman on the August ballot.


Longtime Juvenile Court Judge Jay Blevins is fighting for his seat against challenger Charles G. Jenkins Jr. in the Democratic primary. The primary will decide the seat since there is no Republican running for the post.


Democrats vying for the county commission 1st District seat B include David Abbott and Virgil F. Holder. The race for seat C in the 5th District is a showdown between Democrats Edward O'Neal and Jim Poston. There is no Republican running for the seat in District one so the primary will decide that seat, but the winner of the Democrats' contested District 5 race will face Republican Roger Grayson in August.


Democrats Diane Blevins Massengale and Les Price will vie for the trustee slot on the August ticket where the winner on Tuesday will face unopposed Republican candidate Fred Newcom, who is the father of Fredrick T. Newcom, a GOP candidate in the register of deeds race.

The only contested Republican primary seat is for 4th District constable, where Carl Lavon Hughes and Marion "Doolde" Richardson are dueling for the seat. That winner will face Democrat Buddy Smith in August.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569.

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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