HUNTSVILLE — Qualifying for the 2014 Scott County general election and state primary has officially begun.
The Scott County Election Commission Office began issuing qualifying petitions for the Aug. 7 election on Friday.
With most county offices and all 8th Judicial District judiciary positions up for election, the Aug. 7 election will be the busiest Scott County has seen since 2006. Add the fact that there will be several high-profile seats with no elected incumbent, and interest in this year's election is expected to be at an all-time high.
"People are calling constantly right now," administrator of elections Gabe Krahn told the Independent Herald just before Christmas. "I think the interest is going to be high. Very high."
All county-level offices with the exception of assessor of property are up for election, including county mayor, county clerk, county attorney, circuit court clerk, sheriff, register of deeds, trustee and general sessions court judge. All 14 seats of the county commission are up for election, as well as the constable position in each of Scott County's seven districts. Several seats on the boards of education in Scott County and Oneida are up for election, as well.
In the 8th Judicial District, all seats — attorney general, criminal court judge, circuit court judge, chancellor and public defender — are up for grabs. Three of those seats — attorney general, chancellor and public defender — have unelected incumbents, all of them from Scott County, who will be seeking to hold on to their offices. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam appointed Oneida's Lori Phillips-Jones to replace her retiring uncle, Wm. Paul Phillips, as attorney general; Huntsville's Andrew Tillman to replace the late Billy Joe White as chancellor; and Huntsville's Mark Blakley to replace the retiring Martha Yoakum as public defender.
The sheriff's position will also be held by an unelected incumbent. Mike Cross, elected in 2010, died last month. A successor to fill out the remaining portion of his term between now and the election has not yet been named by county commission. Current chief deputy and acting sheriff Ronnie Phillips is considered a strong favorite to get the nod, and has indicated that he will run for the position in August, regardless.
Phillips-Jones, Tillman and Blakley have all kicked off campaigns for their respective offices as well, as has Oneida's Leif Jeffers, who intends to oppose Blakley for the public defender's position. Jeffers — currently an assistant district attorney in the 8th District — lost to Yoakum by a razor-thin margin of eight votes in the 2006 general election.
Aside from those few, however, most candidates planning to seek election have yet to officially cast their hats into the ring. However, most incumbents have privately indicated their intentions to seek re-election. A few potential challengers' names have also been bandied about, though none have made their intentions formal.
The deadline for qualifying is April 3 at noon.