Day of decision arrives for local candidates

By Thomas Wilson

   Months of campaigning has come down to 12 hours of voting by citizens.
   Carter County voters go to the polls today to choose a state representative, a state senator, and to put in their two cents on a statewide lottery referendum.
   Elizabethton residents will also choose four city council members from a field of eight candidates and two school board members from three candidates.
   The council race includes incumbents Pat "Red" Bowers, Diane Morris, Janie Smith McKinney, and Sam Shipley, as well as challengers Sidney Cox, John W. Hughes, William D. Pectol, and Robert Smalling, who are seeking to unseat the incumbents.
   The city council election offers a series of subplots involving both incumbents and challengers.
   Hughes' candidacy marks his return to the city's political scene after almost 20 years. The retired postmaster from the U.S. Post Office in Elizabethton served as a council member from 1981-1985.
   Cox served as the city's director of finance for nine years before stepping down in 2000 and served one four-year term on the county commission.
   Morris has continued her council campaign despite being diagnosed with cancer last month. She has undergone radiation and chemotherapy treatment since early October.
   Both private businessmen, Smalling and Pectol were past affiliates of the North American Corporation, which is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with the city over a sewer line.
   Bowers was appointed to the council in 1993 and won full four-year terms in 1994 and 1998. Morris, McKinney and Shipley won their first term in 1998. Current mayor pro tem, Shipley led the ticket in the 1998 city election.
   Incumbents Catherine Wooten Armstrong and Bob Berry are on the ballot along with challenger William T. "Sonny" Hunt as the three candidates seeking two school board seats.
   Republican nominee for the state House District 4 seat Jerome Cochran is seeking to maintain the county's history of Republican representation in Nashville.
   Cochran defeated incumbent Rep. Ralph Cole in the Republican primary in August. Cole supporters began a write-in campaign for Cole in mid-October.
   The state Senate's District 3 race pits incumbent Republican nominee Dewey "Rusty" Crowe against Democratic nominee Richard D. Gabriel of Gray and independent candidate Charlie Mattioli of Elizabethton. Crowe rolled past challenger Kevin Cole in the Republican Primary held in August.
   In other races of local interest, Republican incumbent Rep. Jason Mumpower of Bristol will square off against Democratic nominee Van Carrier of Bluff City for the District 3 House seat representing Johnson County and a portion of Bristol, Tenn.
   Republican Robert "Bob" Patton faces Democratic nominee Mark Thomas in the District 7 state house race to represent Johnson City.
   Voters in 50 states will choose 36 governors, 34 U.S. senators and decide on hundreds of House seats. Ballots will also include a host of state legislative races and propositions.
   Tennessee voters will also be electing a new governor, 99 state representatives, 16 state senators and a U.S. senator. The ballot includes a statewide referendum lifting the constitutional ban on a state lottery.