Controversial issues lead to 3 ousted incumbents across area

By Abby Morris
star staff

   Voters turned out across Northeast Tennessee on Thursday for area races. as three incumbents saw their offices go to challengers and voters questioned controversial issues.
  In Washington County, State Representative Robert D. "Bob" Patton, who represents Tennessee's 7th District in the state legislature was ousted in the Republican Party primary by Matthew Hill. Unofficial results released by the Washington County Election Commission show that Hill won 50 percent of the votes for the race gaining the approval of 2,008 voters, and Patton garnering 1,655 votes for 41 percent. Frank R. Hawkins was also seeking the Republican nomination for the office but received only 9 percent of the votes with 373 nods cast for him.
  Hill will go on in November to face Democratic nominee Tony DeLucia who was running unopposed in the Democratic primary.
  Patton, who is a 10-year veteran of the state legislature, has long been associated with House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, D -Covington, and has been criticized by area residents and political factions for his support of a state income tax two years ago under then-governor Don Sundquist, who was also a Republican. Patton served on several House committees, including the Health Committee, the Finance Committee, the Ways and Means Budget Subcommittee and the Family and Children Committee.
  Voters in Sullivan County turned out to vote in the state primary election and the county general election, and voters in Bristol also turned out to vote in a recall election.
  In the recall election, voters were to choose three city council members in a race that pitted three incumbents against five new challengers after Bristol residents questioned some of the actions of that governing body.
  Bristol 2020, a citizen organization which has filed for political action committee status with the state, started a petition and garnered enough signatures to force the recall of Mayor Kelly Graham, Vice Mayor Jim Messimer and Councilman David Shumaker. The organization accused the three men of mismanagement and micromanagement. Bristol 2020 also took issue with the forced resignation of the city manager and the city's role in a dispute with officials of the Bristol, Tenn. City School System over control of Viking Hall, which doubles as the city's civic center and the Tennessee High School gymnasium.
  Unofficial totals from the Sullivan County Election Commission revealed Messimer and Shumaker held onto their seats on the City Council, while Graham was ousted by challenger Bill Bingham. The 70-year-old Bingham is the retired director of athletics at Tennessee High School.
  Bingham was the top vote-getter, according to unofficial totals, for the two at-large seats, gaining 27 percent of the vote with 2,478 votes cast his way. Messimer came in second with 21 percent and 1,959 votes. The ousted Graham came in third with 1,876 votes.
  Shumaker, who was running for the seat representing the West District of the City Council, took 45 percent of the votes in that district with 2,114 voters selecting him. Challenger Aaron Lilly took second with 1,610 votes and challenger Eric Fields garnered 980 votes for third place.
  A controversial recorded phone conversation by a school board member in Unicoi County may have led to her defeat in the county election as veteran school board member Nancy K. Bogart came in last among five candidates for the 2nd District seat.
  Bogart and Unicoi County Director of Schools Denise Brown were heard on a taped telephone conversation on July 22 making threats to Mark Stevens, general manager and executive editor of the Erwin Record newspaper, after several negative articles regarding the school system ran in the newspaper.
  Brown has acknowledged making the statements on the tape where she is heard telling Bogart, "Well, I tell you what I'm gonna do. And I'm serious. It's gonna stop, or I'm going to beat the (expletive) out of him (Stevens) myself." Bogart is then heard replying, "OK." to which Brown answered "I'm serious." Bogart is then heard saying, "And, I'll go with you."
  A copy of the tape was anonymously delivered to the Erwin Record and news of the event soon made local media as well as the Associated Press news wire service. A Unicoi man, Clifton Wayne Morris, 65, has since been arrested and charged with illegally recording the conversation.
  Bogart lost her seat on the school board to Garland "Bubba" Evely, who garnered 602 votes. Bogart came in fifth place in the election, following her four challengers, with only 131 votes.