Municipal elections set; no early voting for Gatlinburg
With two incumbent commissioners running and no challenger in sight, the race for two seats on the Gatlinburg City Commission won’t require early voting. Instead, voters will have eight hours to vote — running from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. May 21.
Commissioners Don Smith and Mark McCown are unopposed and, absent any major write-in campaign, appear set to cruise into new terms on the city’s governing body.
The Sevier County Election Commission has officially set the hours for municipal elections in Gatlinburg and in the other two cities, but the decision for Gatlinburg was largely mandated by state law.
“In the case of municipal elections in a municipality having a population of not more than five thousand (5,000) according to the 1980 federal census or any subsequent federal census where there is no opposition for any of the offices involved, the polling places shall open at the hour of 10 a.m. and close at the hour of 6 p.m.,” according to state law.
The state law is also clear on early voting: “In the case of a municipal election not held in conjunction with any primary election, the regular August or November general elections, or any special primary or special general election for state or federal offices, if there is no opposition, including any write-in candidate that has filed the appropriate notice ... for any of the offices involved, there shall not be an early voting period.”
So there was little choice in how to set hours for the uncontested election. Gatlinburg voters who want to cast ballots will need to show up on election day May 21 at the American Legion Post at 1222 East Parkway between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Administrator Ronee Flynn said it was the only time she knows of that there’s been an uncontested city election in Sevier County, so it’s the first time the law has applied here.
Commission also officially set the hours for the other two municipal elections that happen at roughly the same time. There was no lack of candidates in those.
Early voting for Sevierville will be April 12-27 at the Election Commission office. Hours will be 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday.
The hours for election day May 2, will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Civic Center.
In that race, incumbent Alderman Dale Carr is not running after winning a seat on the state House of Representatives. Alderman Claude Ownby died while in office but the Board of Mayor and Aldermen selected his wife, Maxine Ownby, to complete his term, and she is running for another.
She faces challenges from former Police Chief Robbie Fox, who is now the director of safety for Dollywood, and from Jim McGill, who is membership coordinator for the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce.
Both alderman seats are at-large elections, so the top two candidates will join the board for four-year terms.
Mayor Bryan Atchley, who holds the record for longest serving mayor, is seeking another two-year term and is unopposed.
Pigeon Forge’s municipal election is set for 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. May 14 at City Hall.
Early voting will be April 24 until May 9 at the Election Commission office, with the same hours as Sevierville — 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday.
In that election, incumbents Kevin McClure, Joyce Brackins and Randal Robinson are running for re-election, along with Planning Commissioner Jay Ogle, businessman Jess Davis, and former Lions Club President Don Denney.
Like Sevierville, commissioners run for at-large berths, and the top three vote getters will take office.