Voter registration deadline Oct. 1

By Thomas Wilson
star staff

  Carter County citizens looking to vote in the Nov. 2 election have a little over one week to register with the county Election Commission office.
  The deadline to register to vote in the November election is Oct. 1.
   County Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris said 31,242 county citizens are registered to vote as of Wednesday afternoon. Harris said absentee ballots were mailed out Sept. 18 to county voters serving as military personnel who are unable to vote on Election Day.
  "We've already got some of those back," she said.
  The federal election ballot includes the hotly contested presidential race between Republican President George W. Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry. Voters in the 1st Congressional District will also choose between incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. William "Bill" Jenkins and Democratic nominee Graham Leonard.
  The state election features incumbent Rep. Jerome Cochran running unopposed for his 4th District seat to the House of Representatives. Cochran defeated challenger John Holsclaw for the Republican nomination in August.
  City of Elizabethton voters will have a long menu of selections to make in this election.
  The question of liquor-by-the-drink comes before city voters who will decide whether mixed drinks and wine can be legally served on premise at restaurant establishments. The Election Commission verified a petition requesting the liquor referendum for placement on the ballot earlier this year.
  Six candidates are seeking three seats in the Elizabethton City Council race in November. Sitting members Nancy Alsup, 400 W. Mill St., and Richard Sammons, 2310 Armour Dr., have qualified to seek new terms on the council. Other candidates for the council race are Richard "Curt" Alexander, 124 Messimer Lane; Robert Gobble, 400 M St.; Charles LaPorte, 706 Allen Ave.; and Thomas Whitehead, 705 West G St.
  Elizabethton voters will also decide on seven candidates vying for three at-large seats on the Elizabethton Board of Education. The seven candidates for the city school board who had qualified through Monday were incumbents Judy Richardson and Dr. Bob Sams, as well as challengers Connie Baker, 811 Watauga Ave.; Patricia Bellamy, 804 Johnson Ave.; Rita Booher, 305 West I St.; Matt Cooter, 504-C West I St.; and William Hunt, 411 East K St.
  The BOE will see at least one new face come November - sitting board member Dr. Jonathan Bremer did not seek a third term to the board.
  The November ballot also gives residents living in the county's 4th District the opportunity to select one new county commissioner since Chuck Culler stepped down earlier this year after being diagnosed with cancer.
  Candidates running for the commission seat are Roberta Bowers, 1112 Bluefield Ave.; Steven Lowrance, 927 DeJarnette St.; Gary Lewis, 115 Don Wilson Rd.; Steven Pearson, 115 Crestview Dr.; and Louis C. Tester, 900 E. Elk Ave.
   Elizabethton City Judge Lewis Merryman is seeking another four-year term in the city election as well. He is the sole candidate to submit qualifying papers for the city judge's office.
  The early voting period extends from Oct. 13 to Oct. 28 with machines set up on the second floor of the county courthouse. Early voters can go to the polls between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
  Voter turnout in the Aug. 5 county general election was anemic to say the least with barely 25 percent of the county's registered voters going to the polls.