A grassroots political group pushing for more transparency, smaller government and controlled growth won big in the county’s general election on Aug. 4.
Of the 20 candidates for various county offices endorsed by the Sumner County Constitutional Republicans, 18 declared victory and one race remained at a tie as of Wednesday.
The winners include County Mayor John Isbell, General Sessions Judge Ron Blanton, three new school board members and 13 new County Commissioners.
The biggest surprise of the night was the unprecedented win by write-in candidate Jamie Teachenor who defeated incumbent Leslie Schell in District 14.
Teachenor was removed from the May 3 primary ballot by the state Republican party after his bona fide status was challenged. Notified too late to run as an Independent in August, his only option was to lodge a write-in campaign – something that had never been done successfully in Sumner County.
A U.S. Air Force veteran who is the director of strategic initiatives for a commercial glass company, Teachenor estimates he knocked on 850-900 doors, and shook more than 1,300 hands over the summer.
“I knew the only way to get their vote was by shaking their hand and meeting them,” he said. “I didn’t just want to be elected – I wanted to know them so well so that I could represent them.”
Teachenor, whose name didn’t appear on the ballot and had to be entered in manually by everyone who voted for him, garnered 579 votes to Schell’s 289 votes.
“I had hundreds of conversations with people who felt like they didn’t have a voice in their government anymore,” he said. “I just met the people and they did all the work.”
Sumner County Constitutional Republicans Chairman Kurt Riley said that Teachenor is not unlike other candidates the group endorsed.
“We looked for candidates who wanted to execute the will of their constituents,” said Riley. “I think that’s been lost over the years.”
Riley said his group’s message of keeping taxes low, focusing on infrastructure and eliminating cronyism resonated with voters.
“The message is the same,” he said. “And that’s to live within your means and to make sure that government is fair for everyone.”
Isbell promises transparency, controlled growth
Isbell, the county’s current Assessor of Property, defeated Independent Greg Arias 11,400 votes (65.9 percent) to 5,812 votes (33.6 percent) to win the county mayor’s race. Incumbent Anthony Holt did not seek re-election. Isbell defeated Comm. Chris Taylor in a contentious race for the Republican party’s nomination in May.
Although endorsed by the Republican group Isbell said earlier this week he would strive to remain independent, and that his role will be to represent all of Sumner County.
“My job is to make sure the citizens are well represented,” he said.
Isbell said he’ll continue to address the challenging economic climate with a controlled growth plan and has laid out several initiatives to help him do so.
They include providing interactive data for citizens to see how their tax dollars are spent; a focus on county employee development and retention; encouraging more citizen engagement; and developing a growth plan that is conducive to maintaining the rural character of the county.
Although the county mayor sets an agenda of sorts for the county, it’s the 24-member County Commission that approves the funding for that agenda, as well as the $324 million school district budget.
When the new commission is sworn in on Sept. 1, it will be markedly different with just six commissioners returning and 18 who are newly elected.
Here are the results:
Republican Terry Moss defeated two write-in candidates to win in District 1. Moss won with 390, or 52 percent of the votes. Jody Garrison received 317 votes while Brian Jones received 42 votes. The Westmoreland seat had been held since 2010 by Moe Taylor, an Independent, who died suddenly in April.
In District 2, Republican Terry Wright, a current county commissioner, defeated Independent Charlotte Caudill 279 votes (52 percent) to 257 votes (48 percent).
Republican Mark Harrison was unopposed in District 3.
In District 4, Republican Dillon Lamberth ran unopposed in the general election. Lamberth defeated two candidates in the May 3 Republican primary, Brent Dyer and Michael McClellan.
Republican Darrell Rogers defeated Democrat Latoya Halcomb in District 5 with 562 votes (76 percent) to 172 votes (23 percent). Rogers defeated current County Commissioner Alan Driver in the May 3 Republican primary.
In District 6, Republican David Klein defeated two independents, including incumbent Steve Graves. Klein won with 715 (57 percent) votes; Graves garnered 427 votes (34 percent) and Jackie Leath won 120 (9.5 percent) votes. Klein also defeated three Republican candidates in the May 3 primary.
In District 7, current commissioner Danny Sullivan, a Republican, defeated Independent Tim Cyr 674 votes (76.5 Percent) to 199 votes (22.6 percent). Sullivan defeated Tina Tobin by 19 votes to win the Republican nomination in May.
In District 8, current commissioner Baker Ring, a Republican, defeated Democrat Deborah Alston 268 votes (57 percent) to 205 votes (43 percent).
In District 9, Republican Mary Genung defeated Steve Camp, an independent, 774 votes (69 percent) to 340 votes (30.4 percent). Genung defeated Jimmy Overton, a Gallatin city councilman, in the May 3 Republican primary.
In District 10, Benjamin Harris, a Republican, ran unopposed. Harris defeated Barry Briley for the Republican nomination in May.
Republican and former County Commissioner Kevin Pomeroy ran unopposed in both the primary and general election in District 11.
In District 12, Republican Deborah Holmes ran unopposed. Holmes handily defeated current county commissioner Jerry Foster in the Republican primary.
In District 13, Republican Terri Boyt and Democrat Brenda Dotson tied with 398 votes each. Each beat opponents in their primary races with Boyt defeating Chase Moore and Dotson beating out her democratic challenger, Jawon Lauderdale.
If the race remains a tie after an official count of provisional ballots on Aug. 10, the county commission will vote on Aug. 15 to either appoint a winner or hold a run-off election. A meeting has been scheduled for Aug. 16 to set a date for the special election should the commission choose to go that route.
In District 15, Republican J. Wes Wynne ran unopposed in the general election after defeating Sean Keene in the May 3 Republican primary.
In District 16, current county commissioner and Republican Jeremy Mansfield ran unopposed in both the general election and the primary.
In District 17, Robert B. Brown, III, a Republican, ran unopposed. Brown defeated current commissioner Caroline Krueger in their primary race.
In District 18, Republican Don Schmit ran unopposed. Schmit defeated long-time county commissioner Paul Goode in the May 3 Republican primary.
In District 19, Republican Shannon Burgdorf ran unopposed. Burgdorf defeated current county commissioner Shellie Tucker in the Republican primary.
Republican Merrol Hyde ran unopposed in both the general election and the primary in District 20.
Republican Jerry Becker ran unopposed in the general election in District 21. Becker defeated first-time candidate Colin Zimmerman in the May 3 primary.
In District 22, Republican Matthew Shoaf ran unopposed in the general election. Shoaf defeated current commissioner Luke Tinsley in the primary election.
In District 23, Republican Tim Jones defeated Democrat Jason Baggett 445 votes (67.3 percent) to 213 votes (32.2 percent). Jones handily defeated current county commissioner Gene Rhodes in the Republican primary.
In District 24, Republican Chrissi Smith-Miller ran unopposed in the general election. Miller defeated current commissioner Brian Stewart in a May primary race.