Jess Davis moves into Pigeon Forge hotel with plans to run for City Commission
Candidates are starting to pick up petitions for the upcoming municipal elections, especially in Pigeon Forge, where five candidates have indicated they could run for three available seats on the city commission.
Gatlinburg and Sevierville also have elections scheduled for May, and the deadline for returning petitions in all three cities is Feb. 21.
In Pigeon Forge, the seats held by incumbents Kevin McClure, Randal Robinson and Joyce Brackins are up for grabs. McClure and Brackins have picked up petitions to run again, but so far Robinson has not. He’s indicated he has not yet made up his mind whether he’ll seek re-election.
Jess Davis, chairman of Concerned Churches and Citizens of Pigeon Forge, has picked up a petition to run. Others considering a run are Don Denney, a former Lions Club president, and planning commissioner Jay Ogle.
Davis, owner of the Spirit of the Smokies Condo Lodge, had voted in the liquor by the drink referendum last November as a nonresident property owner, but now says he lives at the lodge.
In a certified letter provided to the Sevier County Election Commission, he indicated he is living in a unit at the facility and provides signatures from the general manager and head of maintenance to verify that.
“This is for the purpose of picking up a petition package to run for city commission of Pigeon Forge although I will not make the final decision to run until just before Feb. 21,” Davis wrote.
He could not be reached Friday for further comment.
The city charter states anyone eligible to vote in the city other than those registered as nonresident property owners can run for commission, meaning Davis can run as long as he is registered to vote as a resident.
Denney indicated he had been encouraged to run for the office by friends, but hasn’t made up his mind.
“I’m still praying about that,” he said.
He said he hopes to help the city heal the divisions that have grown over liquor by the drink and other issues.
“Right now here’s division among our churches and there’s division in our community and we’re going to have to work together. We’re going to have to get divine intervention and divine inspiration to get back together.
“If we’re going to move forward we’ll have to have harmony and unity.”
Ogle could not be reached for comment Friday.
That election will take place May 14.
In Sevierville, the mayor’s seat is up for re-election every two years, and the four-year terms of two aldermen are coming to a close.
Dale Carr’s seat is open after he won election to the state House of Representatives. Alderman Claude Ownby died last year, but his wife, Maxine, is completing his term and has returned her petition to run for another term.
Jim McGill, member coordinator for the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce; and Robbie Fox, director of safety for Dollywood, have also returned petitions, along with Vincent Snider.
Mayor Bryan Atchley has said he plans to run for another two-year term. He picked up a petition but has not returned it yet.
The Sevierville election takes place May 2.
In Gatlinburg, the seats of incumbent commissioners Mark McCown and Donald Smith are up for re-election. McCown has returned his petition, while Smith has picked one up but hasn’t brought it back yet.
That election is set for May 21.