Mathes cruises to victory in circuit court clerk race

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Incumbent John Paul Mathes easily won his second term as Circuit Court Clerk, defeating three challengers with strong voter showings around the county, according to unofficial voting results from Thursday's county election.
   Mathes grabbed 7,111 votes, winning 19 of 20 precincts reporting on Thursday night. He posted impressive returns in his home community of Hampton with 282 votes, Valley Forge (290 votes), Roan Mountain (367 votes) and Tiger Valley (293 votes).
   Tennessee State Trooper Dexter Lunceford finished second with 3,484 votes. Justice Center maintenance supervisor Russell Kyte ran third with 2,269 votes while probation officer Tammy Eggleston came in fourth with 1,169 votes.
   Lunceford did well in the 1st District, winning the Unaka precinct with 228 votes and also ran well in the Hunter, Hampton, East Side and Courthouse precincts.
   The unofficial voting totals came from absentee votes, early voting ballots and 20 county precincts excluding Elk Mills.
   Mathes dominated early voting as he picked up 2,880 votes. Only Lunceford, with 1,053 votes, approached the lead the incumbent built when early voting returns were announced.
   Kyte made his best showing in Siam with 223 votes and in Tiger Valley with 119 votes, finishing second to Mathes in both precincts. He also did well in Valley Forge and Gap Creek.
   Kyte serves as maintenance supervisor at the Carter County Courthouse and has been a custodian supervisor for eight years.
   Mathes won a landslide victory over write-in candidate Roger Dale White in 1998.
   The Hampton native spent eight years as a county commissioner and operated his own business in Hampton before winning his first term as circuit court clerk four years ago. He followed long-time incumbent Luther McKeehan, who retired in 1998.
   Eggleston was making her first run for public office as was Kyte.
   Lunceford narrowly lost the county Republican primary for county executive to Truman Clark in 1998.
   All election results are unofficial until certified.