local campaigns

Domestic assault charge against Maury County Democratic party chair dropped

Charges of domestic assault were dropped against Maury County’s Democratic Party chairman last week despite a police report that described his girlfriend as having a laceration above her right eyebrow after a confrontation with him, reports the Columbia Daily Herald.

Seth James Campbell, 28, was arrested Oct. 5, the morning after the alleged incident, a Columbia Police report said. After stepping aside briefly as chairman, Campbell was reinstated by the Democratic Party’s steering committee and will continue in his role.

“Everything totally was resolved; the DA dropped all charges,” Campbell told The Daily Herald on Saturday. “The party held an emergency executive committee meeting on Oct. 10 and voted to stay the course, pending a full investigation. With the charges being dropped, they have asked me to continue as chair of the party.”

Campbell challenged state Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, for her seat in the 2016 election as an independent. The Mt. Pleasant High School special education teacher and assistant football coach was named party chairman in March.

The girlfriend told police she did not want to press charges and sent the newspaper an email saying, “The officers may have had the best of intentions, but Seth should never have been arrested.”

Rep. Sherry Jones seeks election as Davidson County Court Clerk

State Rep. Sherry Jones, a Nashville Democrat who has served for more than two decades, has announce she’s running for election as Davidson County Juvenile Court Clerk next year, reports The Tennessean.

Jones, first elected to Tennessee House District 59 in 1994, recently filed paperwork with the Davidson County Election Commission allowing her to start raising money for the open countywide seat to replace Juvenile Court Clerk David Smith, who is retiring.

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Senate Democratic Leader running for Shelby County mayor

State Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris is running for Shelby County mayor and will not seek re-election to the Senate District 29 seat, reports the Memphis Daily News.

“On the campaign trail, I plan to force a real conversation about creating more meaningful opportunities for our students and reducing poverty,” Harris said Wednesday, Oct. 4, in a written statement announcing his candidacy. “It’ll be one of the first times that this has happened in this community.”

Harris, who is also a former Memphis City Council member, was elected to the state Senate in 2014 from the council seat.

He joins former Shelby County Commissioner Sidney Chism in the May (Democratic) primary…  And in the process has started a scramble for his state Senate seat which is on the ballot in the August state and federal primaries.

The Republican primary for mayor, so far, is a contest among Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir, Shelby County Juvenile Court Clerk Joy Touliatos and Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland.

Contenders in the 2018 county elections cannot begin pulling qualifying petitions for the ballot until Nov. 17.

“I’m not in this for layups,” Harris told The Daily News. “I’m in this for real serious challenges.”

Council breaks tie vote in former Rep. Tindell’s favor

The Knoxville City Council voted Wednesday to break a tie in recent Council primary election results and declare former state Rep. Harry Tindell winner of a place on the general election ballot, reports the News Sentinel.

In the Aug. 29 city primary, Tindell, who served 22 years as a Democrat representing House District 13, and community activist Amelia Parker both got 488 votes in the Council District 4 contest.

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Wheel tax referendum fell short on valid signatures in Hawkins County

A petition drive seeking a special election to consider repeal a recent $40-per-vehicle increase in the Hawkins County wheel tax fell 127 signatures short of the number required, according to the Rogersville Review. Indeed, county Election Administrator Donna Sharp says there were more invalid signatures than valid. Advocates needed 1,095 valid signatures.

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Reorganized Shelby County Democrats elect new chairman

A restructured Shelby County Democratic Party elected Naval Reserve officer and lawyer Corey Strong as chairman on Saturday, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Strong, 36, became the party’s first chairman since it was forcibly disbanded by the Tennessee Democratic Party a year ago.

“My goal is to have a unified message across various interest groups and people of different backgrounds,” Strong said. “The values that we share are the values we want represented in our government, our communities and our neighborhood.”

Strong, a graduate of White Station High and the U.S. Naval Academy, served eight years on active duty in the Navy. He received a law degree from the University of Memphis in 2014 and is a special project manager in the Shelby County Schools finance department under a foundation residency program.

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Ketron announces run for county mayor; two announce runs for Senate District 13 seat

State Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron has announced he will not seek reelection to the Senate next year and instead will seek the office of Rutherford County mayor, reports the Daily News Journal. It will be his fourth try to become mayor.

The senator says he has the proven leadership to seek better transportation, a solid waste solution for the pending closure of Middle Point Landfill and the “best education we possibly can.”

“We’re blessed now with two school districts (Rutherford County and Murfreesboro City),” said Ketron, who worries about appropriating the needed funding to build at least a new school each year to keep up with growth. “It’s a challenge.”

A Republican from Murfreesboro, Ketron ran for the office (once called county executive) in 1990, 1994 and 1998. He served on the Rutherford County Commission from 1990 to 1998 and has served in the state Senate since 2002. Ketron’s current term ends in November 2018.

County Mayor Ernest Burgess has served since 2006 and will be finishing his third term in August 2018.

In a separate story, the DNJ reports that Burgess and state Rep. Dawn White of Murfreesboro say they’ll run for the Republican nomination in Ketron’s Senate District 13 seat since he’s not seeking reelection.

“I believe that it is extremely important to ensure that our next state senator is a proven conservative leader who has a record of standing up for hardworking Tennessee families,” White said in her news release.

… “All of us know the complexity of county government, especially Rutherford County, which has been the fastest growing county in Tennessee and requires experienced leadership with strong analytical skills and skilled employee relations,” said Burgess, who has served as county mayor since winning the seat in 2006.

“I have earlier said that Rutherford County needs and deserves strong, talented and committed leadership at both the county and state level. Now that we have Sen. Ketron announcing his candidacy for mayor, this will give an opportunity to focus on my last year as mayor and also consider my future role of service to Rutherford County.”

 

TBI investigating alleged voting violations in Bluff City elections

The TBI is investigating alleged voting law violations in the May 16 Bluff City municipal election for mayor and seats on the Board of Aldermen, reports the Kingsport Times-News.

Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus requested the TBI investigation after receiving information on possible election irregularities during the May election.

…”On June 19, I requested the TBI to conduct an investigation into the allegations,” Staubus said. “When the investigation is complete, I will review it and determine what action needs to be taken.”

Sullivan County Administrator of Elections Jason Booher said his office referred the matter to Staubus.

“It is the policy of the Sullivan County Election Commission to refer all perceived or alleged allegations of criminal behavior related to an election to the district attorney,” Booher said. “The integrity of elections are held to the highest standard in Sullivan County. I am not at liberty to comment on any matter that has been referred to the district attorney.”

TBI Spokeswoman Leslie Earhart confirmed the investigation and said no further comment would be issued because the investigation is active and ongoing.

Note: In the election, Mayor Irene Wells won another term with 138 votes to 130 for Carolyn Harris Payne and 35 for Cathryn Michelle Woomer, according to the county election commission website. Incumbent Aldermen Ray Harrington and Richard Bowling also won new terms.

Witness tampering added to charges in Monroe County vote buying cases

Witness tampering has been added to the list of  federal charges against Brian “Wormy” Hodge, who is accused of buying votes to help Randy White get elected Monroe County sheriff in 2014, reports the News Sentinel.

 Hodge was initially indicted in February on charges he recruited now-confessed chronic vote buyer Betty Jane Best to funnel money he supplied to voters willing to cast their ballots for White and help those voters use the absentee ballot process to do so.

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Rep. Jimmy Eldridge eyes run for Jackson mayor

Republican state Rep. Jimmy Eldridge says he is “leaning toward” running to become mayor of Jackson in 2019, according to the Jackson Sun.

“I have the experience, I have the energy, I have the health,” Eldridge said in a phone interview. “I have desire to want to continue to serve. It’s not even in my thinking process to ever retire from political life as long as my health is good and my friends, family and community are encouraging me.”

Current Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist’s term runs through 2019 and he has not announced his future plans. Gist has served as mayor since 2007.  (Note: Gist defeated former state Sen. Lowe Finney in 2015, winning with just over 51 percent of the vote.)

Before being elected state representative in 2003, Eldridge, a Jackson native, served on the Madison County Court and Madison County Commission. In addition to his duties as state representative, Eldridge is the chairman of the House Consumer and Human Resources committee.

“I worked through the ranks,” he said. “I didn’t stop and wake up one day, serve on the county commission, and said, ‘Hey, I want to run for mayor.’ I’ve worked through the channels and I think that’s the proper way to do it.”

Eldridge has one more year in his term before his reelection campaign in 2018, one year before a potential mayoral run.  Eldridge said locally it is important the next mayor has a “strong” relationship with the General Assembly.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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