HUNTSVILLE — It appears that there will be several seats on Scott County Commission up for grabs in the 2018 general election, without incumbents on the ballot. Yet, while that generally would generate a larger-than-typical pool of candidates vying to replace them, qualifying for the county’s district races is moving at a relatively slow pace.
The Independent Herald previously reported that multiple commissioners had stated their intent — either publicly or privately — to not seek re-election in 2018. And while there is still five weeks remaining before the qualifying deadline, that can be seen in the pool of candidates who have picked up paperwork to officially file their intent to seek office.
To date, only eight of County Commission’s 13 incumbents have picked up qualifying papers. And only three of those have returned their completed petitions.
The incumbents who have qualified to seek re-election include David “Blue” Day in the 1st District, Kenny Chadwell in the 4th District and Patti Brown in the 6th District. Incumbents who have picked up paperwork but not returned it include Sam Lyles in the 2nd District, Sheila Hall Buttram and Ernest Phillips in the 3rd District, and Rick L. Burke and Mike Slaven in the 7th District.
Fifth District Commissioner Trent Cross resigned his position last month. Of the remaining 13 incumbents, five have not picked up qualifying papers — to date, at least. Those include Eric Newport in the 1st District, June Jeffers in the 2nd District, Rick Russ in the 4th District, Robyn McBroom in the 5th District and Robin Newman in the 6th District.
Russ is seeking election in the Scott County Mayor’s race, and will not be a candidate to retain his commission seat.
If qualifying ended today, there would be at least six newcomers elected to the county’s legislative body, with a guarantee of at least one new face in six of the county’s seven civil districts. And while more than a month remains for incumbents who have not done so to file intent to seek re-election, the overall pool of candidates is somewhat — perhaps, surprisingly — small.
In total, 24 candidates across the county’s seven civil districts have shown an interest in seeking a seat on County Commission, the incumbents included. Two districts have only two candidates who have picked up qualifying papers, which would essentially guarantee those candidates a spot on the commission if qualifying ended today, and no district has more than four candidates vying for office.
Challengers who have picked up paperwork thus far include Randall Hamilton, Ledford Harness and David Jeffers in the 1st District, Leonard Bertram, Jennifer Honeycutt Dishman and Jerried Jeffers in the 2nd District, Kenny Morrow in the 3rd District, Fred K. Phillips in the 4th District, Harold Chambers, Anthony “Tony” Kidd, Kris Lewallen and Joe Tramell Jr. in the 5th District, Scott Puckett in the 6th District, and Michael W. Knight and Daniel Smith in the 7th District.
David Jeffers, Bertram, Morrow and Chambers are former commissioners who will be seeking enough votes to return to the legislative body. Jerried Jeffers is the son of June Jeffers, who currently sits on the commission in the 2nd District.
Qualifying has been even slower for the four seats on the county board of education that are up for election.
Incumbents will seek re-election to at least three of those seats, with the only exception thus far being John V. Thompson in the 7th District. There, two challengers have picked up qualifying paperwork: Sharon Hall Marcum and Derek Sexton. In the other three districts, incumbents have filed qualifying papers without opposition thus far. Those include Tommy Silcox in the 1st District, Kimberly Ross Kidd in the 4th District and Esther Abbott in the 5th District.
On the Oneida Special School District Board of Education, where three of five seats are up for grabs, only one challenger has picked up qualifying papers. Sandy West Martin, the former librarian at Oneida High School, has picked up paperwork, as have the three incumbents — Mark Matthews, Brom Shoemaker and Dorothy Hill Watson.
As for the county offices, there has been little movement over the past week. Not surprisingly, the two offices generating the most attention are those that will not have incumbents seeking re-election: county court clerk and register of deeds.
In the clerk’s office, where Pat Phillips has opted against seeking re-election, four candidates have qualified while a fifth has picked up paperwork. Those who have qualified include Felicia Hamby Bilbrey, Sandi Carson Chambers, Pat Massengale and Christin Neal Kidd. Peggy Duncan has picked up paperwork but has not returned it.
In the register’s office, where Benjie Rector Jr. is set to retire at the end of his current term, five candidates have returned qualifying papers while two more have picked up paperwork. Kevin Bilbrey, Tim “Kemo” Garrett, Stuart Jones, Ashley Newport Riseden and Chris Wilson have already qualified, while Mary Duncan Hall and John V. Thompson Jr. have picked up qualifying papers.
Another office without an incumbent, road superintendent, has seen just two candidates pick up paperwork. Kelvin King, who has long been a supervisor at the road department, has qualified to seek election, while Dale Boyatt — who was a candidate for the office in the 2014 election — has picked up paperwork.
Four candidates have qualified for the office of county mayor. Incumbent Dale Perdue will be opposed by Michael Lloyd, Rick Russ and Jeff Tibbals.
In the sheriff’s office, incumbent Ronnie Phillips has filed paperwork to seek re-election. Former sheriff Anthony Lay has picked up qualifying papers.
Circuit Court Clerk Donnie Phillips, Trustee Jimmy D. Byrd and County Attorney John Beaty have filed paperwork to seek re-election and are without opposition to this point.