HUNTSVILLE — As elections go, next year’s county general election won’t be the biggest, but it will certainly rank up there.
The August 2018 general election will find most of Scott County’s elected offices — with the exception of assessor of property — on the ballot, including the typical attention-grabbers, such as county mayor, sheriff and road superintendent. Also on the ballot will be all 14 seats on county commission and several seats on the county board of education.
In terms of the sheer number of offices and positions that will be up for election, next year’s county general election will be exceeded only by the eight-year election cycle that sees judicial seats added to the ballot. That won’t happen until August 2022.
The start of qualifying for the August 2018 general election is still more than four months away, but there has already been plenty of chatter and speculation about the upcoming election. Several potential candidates have appeared to test the political waters, particularly in the high-profile offices of county mayor and sheriff, officers that are currently held by first-term incumbents Dale Perdue and Ronnie Phillips, respectively.
The 14-member county commission, meanwhile, could face considerable turnover — not necessarily due to upheaval meted out by voters, but because several sitting commissioners may opt against seeking re-election. Nearly half of the incumbent commissioners have privately indicated that they are leaning against a re-election bid or that they will consider that option.
The 2014 election featured the largest county commission turnover in recent memory, with eight of 14 commissioners elected that cycle being new to the county legislative body. Seven incumbents lost their re-election bid in 2014, while an eighth incumbent — Paul Strunk of the 5th District — opted against re-election in order to seek election to the county mayor’s office.
Recent election cycles have also seen the traditional makeup of the county legislative body significantly reshaped. In 2010, June Jeffers became the first woman to serve on the county commission when she was elected in the 2nd District. Four years later, a total of five women were elected to the 14-member commission.
In addition, school board seats in the 1st, 4th, 5th and 7th districts will be up for election next year. Those seats are currently held by Tommy Silcox, Kimberly Kidd, Esther Abbott and John V. Thompson Sr.
In the Oneida Special School District, three of five seats will be on the ballot next year. Those seats are currently held by Mark Matthews, Brom Shoemaker and Dorothy Watson.
It isn’t just the local offices that will be on the ballot next August. That date will also feature the state primary. The big-ticket item on the ballot will be the gubernatorial primary. On the Republican side, former Commissioner of the Department of Economic & Community Development Randy Boyd is considered the frontrunner, but he faces formidable competition that includes State Sen. Mae Beavers, Congresswoman Diane Black and Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives Beth Harwell.
On the Democratic side, former Nashville mayor Karl Dean is considered the frontrunner. His only opposition thus far is Craig Fitzhugh, the minority leader of the Tennessee House of Representatives.
Republican Bill Haslam is term-limited and cannot run again in 2018.
Also on the ballot in 2018 will be primaries for state senator, state representative, U.S. representative and U.S. senator. Those seats are currently held by four Republicans — Ken Yager of Harriman, Kelly Keisling of Byrdstown, Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga and Bob Corker of Chattanooga, respectively.
There had been some speculation that outgoing Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett would challenge Corker in the Republican primary. However, Burchett has announced that he will seek to replace retiring 2nd District congressman Jimmy Duncan, R-Knoxville.