There will be two new faces on the Carter County Board of Education this fall after upset victories in the 1st and 4th Districts. Thursday’s county general election saw Craig Davis and Rusty Barnett earn wins in their respective school board districts.
In the 1st School Board District, a three-person race featured incumbent board member Keith Church facing Davis and fellow challenger Brenda Byrum. Davis defeated Church–his closest opponent–by more than a two-to-one advantage. After all three precincts in the 1st District reported, Davis earned 384 votes to Church’s 186. Byrum was a distant third with 85 votes.
Davis received 58 percent of the overall votes, while Church earned 28 percent and Byrum gained just under 13 percent.
While the final vote tally at the Hunter Elementary School precinct was a close contest, with Davis winning by only two votes over Church, he secured the victory by significantly outpacing Church at the Midway and Unaka Elementary precincts.
Church, who was appointed to fill the remainder of the recently completed term, was seeking to win a full-term on the Carter County Board of Education.
In the 4th School Board District, incumbent candidate and local business owner Daniel Holder was defeated by Elizabethton Fire Department Captain Rusty Barnett. When all votes were counted in the four precincts of the 4th District, Barnett earned 54 percent of the total votes with a 262-to-223 count.
Barnett won the race after victories at the Eastside, Siam and Tennessee National Guard Armory Precincts. Holder’s only precinct victory came at the Carter County Courthouse.
After the win, Barnett told the Elizabethton STAR that he is looking forward to beginning his term on the county school board. “I am very eager to get to work and to start serving the people of the 4th District,” he commented.
Barnett thanked Holder for running a “clean and honorable campaign.” He added, “There are a lot of issues where I agree with Mr. Holder and I have enjoyed getting to know him throughout the campaign.”
In the race for the 6th District Board of Education seat, incumbent Kelly Crain won reelection over challenger Jared McKinney by a margin of 465 to 329. Crain received 58 percent of the votes to McKinney’s 41 percent.
Crain’s victory was gained, in large part, due to a significant number of votes in his favor at the Valley Forge Elementary Precinct. Valley Forge voters provided Crain with a victory of 136 votes in the precinct. The vote differential in the precinct offset Crain’s loss to McKinney in the Elk Mills Precinct and an extremely close race in Hampton.
The fourth school board seat up for reelection in the 8th District featured a one-man contest. Incumbent Ronnie McAmis, who has served as the school board’s vice-chairman for the last year, did not face a challenge in yesterday’s general election. McAmis received 222 of the 225 votes cast in the race. Three voters placed a write-in candidate’s name on their ballots.
This year’s only countywide election–the Carter County Assessor of Property race–was also an uncontested race. Incumbent Republican Ronnie B. Taylor received 99.5 percent of the vote with 3,164 total ballots cast in his favor.
The county’s two constable races in the 1st and 6th District were also uncontested. 1st District incumbent Larry Perry and former Sheriff John Henson were unopposed in their two races. Henson was selected last fall to serve the remainder of the term of Ross Potter following his death from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in 2011.
1st District County Commissioner Buford L. Peters also secured a win in last night’s election. Peters, who was running unopposed, will serve the final two years of the term of Commissioner Paul Mottern. Mottern died last summer following a brief illness.
Election officials were extremely disappointed with the total number of votes cast in this August’s election. Only 2,153 registered voters came to the polls yesterday, while anoted 1,636 chose to cast an absentee ballot or participated in the early voting period.
With a combined total of 3,789 votes, only 11 percent of all registered voters participated in this election. Earlier in the week, election officials had anticipated approximately 20 percent of voters would cast ballots in the county general election and state primary races.
Since the November general election will feature a presidential race, along with a congressional and U.S. Senate campaign, the Carter County Election Commission does anticipate voter turnout to be much higher.