Election certified; write-in candidate elected to school board

Friday, August 10, 2018
Amy Martin, Bedford County School Board member, talks with former Bedford County Judge (position is now called mayor) Dorothy Orr during an event at Carriage House Inn last Friday. When asked if she kept up with the election this year, Orr smiled, pointed to her newspapers, and said that she is keeping up with everything.
T-G Photo by Dawn Hankins

Bedford County Election Commission certified the results of the Aug. 2 primary and general elections on Thursday morning; a few vote totals were slightly increased due to provisional ballots which were not part of the election night totals, but no outcomes were affected.

There was one addition, however, to the results the Times-Gazette announced last week. No candidates qualified to run for a 7th District seat on Bedford County Board of Education, and so there was no one on the ballot for that seat. But Nicole Cashion was elected to the seat with six write-in votes.

Tennessee allows write-in votes, but only if the write-in candidate notifies the election office in advance of the election and asks for his or her votes to be counted. Cashion filed the proper notice, and so her six votes were counted, winning her the school board seat.

On election night, Sheriff Austin Swing celebrates his reelection with supporters at the VFW.
T-G Photo by Terence Corrigan

Certified totals

Here are the final, certified totals for the three contested county-wide races:

County Mayor: Chad Graham, Republican, 3,922; Eugene Ray (incumbent), independent, 2,893; Rusty Reed, independent, 1,095; Randy Carroll, independent, 561. Ray received three more votes than were announced on election night, while Reed received one more vote.

Sheriff: Austin Swing (incumbent), independent, 5,744; Rick Gann, Republican, 2,774. Swing picked up three votes compared to election night totals, while Gann's total increased by one.

Register of Deeds: Johnny Reed (incumbent), Democrat, 4,203; Colleen Embry, Republican, 4,106. Each received two additional votes compared to election night totals.

Also re-elected last week, without opposition, were County Clerk Donna Thomas, Circuit Court Clerk Michelle Murray and Trustee Tonya Davis. Appointed incumbent Circuit Court (Part II) Judge Wyatt Burk won election as well.

Plans to chair

Graham told the Times-Gazette on Wednesday that he does hope to chair Bedford County Board of Commissioners if commissioners will confirm him.

Under state law, a county mayor can -- but does not have to -- chair the county commission. If the county mayor does chair the commission, he or she can break tie votes. If a mayor does not chair the commission, he or she has veto power -- but it's a weak veto power, since it can be overturned by a simple majority vote of the commission, the same majoritoy required to pass a measure in the first place. The veto primarily serves to slow down implementation of a resolution and give the county commission a chance to reconsider.

Outgoing Bedford County Mayor Eugene Ray was first elected chair while he was serving as a county commissioner and continued in that role once he became county mayor. His predecessor as mayor, Jimmy Woodson, chose not to chair the commission. Prior to Woodson, Paul Parker chaired the commission for part of his term, but not all of it.

The newly-elected commission, however, has the final say on the position of chairman, and could choose to elect Graham or one of its own members as chair.


A swearing-in ceremony for Bedford County officials elected or re-elected last week will be held 3 p.m. Aug. 31 in the second floor courtroom at the county courthouse. Another judge will swear in Burk, and then Burk will swear in the other elected officials.

New terms of office begin at midnight Sept. 1.

County commissioners who miss the ceremony on Aug. 31 can be sworn in by County Attorney John T. Bobo on the night of the Sept. 11 commission meeting.

Commissioners who are leaving office, as well as Ray, will be recognized Tuesday night at the last county commission meeting before new terms of office begin. The meeting takes place 7 p.m. Tuesday in the second floor courtroom.

New commissioners

There will be seven new commissioners out of 18, a substantial turnover.

New commissioners: Brent Smith (1st District), Gregory Vick (2nd District), Brian Farris (4th District), Anita Epperson (4th District), Jeff Sweeney (5th District), Chasity Gunn (6th District), Sylvia Pinson (7th District).

Returning commissioners: Don Gallagher (1st District), Tony Smith (2nd District), Janice Brothers (3rd District), Jimmy Patterson (3rd District), Linda Yockey (5th District), Bill Anderson (6th District), Julie Sanders (7th District), John Brown (8th District), Ed Castleman (8th District), Mark Thomas (9th District), P.T. "Biff" Farrar (9th District).

School board

School board members Brian Crews (District 2),and Diane Neeley (District 4) were re-elected, while Dan Reed was elected to the District 3 seat formerly held by Amy Martin, who did not seek re-election.

As noted above, Nicole Cashion was elected to the 7th District seat formerly held by Graham. Graham did not seek re-election to the school board due to his mayoral campaign.