Note: This story was last updated at 4:10 p.m. May 7.
Primary Winners: Frank, Cantrell, Hunt, Lay, Clement
One is Anderson County’s first female mayor. The other will become the county’s first female chancellor.
The two candidates—Terry Frank and Nicki Cantrell—beat their opponents by significant margins in the Republican primary on Tuesday. Both said their victories were based in large part on running positive campaigns.
Cantrell’s victory over Clinton attorney and City Judge Michael Farley, who had the support of many other lawyers, appeared to be the big upset of the night in what had been the most heated race, with the two candidates clashing over their courtroom experience and trading accusations of false claims and “mudslinging.”
Both were running to replace the current chancellor, William Lantrip, who is retiring at the end of June after 25 years on the bench. The chancellor hears cases in Chancery Court ranging from divorces and adoptions to lawsuits and contract disputes, but can also sometimes hear Criminal Court cases, sit as the Circuit Court judge, and hear Juvenile Court appeals.
“Nobody believed we could do this,” Cantrell’s husband Dail Cantrell said Tuesday night. “We refused to run a negative campaign and got the support of the people.”
Nicki Cantrell won by about 900 votes, collecting 3,895 votes to Farley’s 2,979, according to unofficial results with all 27 precincts reporting. That’s roughly a 54 percent to 41 percent margin.
A third candidate, Republican Phil Harber, who did not appear to campaign as hard as either Farley or Cantrell, received 368 votes.
Frank, who was first elected in a special election in August 2012, beat back a challenge by Anderson County Commissioner Zach Bates, who is not seeking re-election to his commission seat this fall. Frank will now face Democrat Jim Hackworth, a former state representative, and Independent Bradley S. Rickett in the Aug. 7 general election.
Frank received 3,896 votes, compared to 3,406 for Bates, a one-term commissioner. Frank collected about 53 percent of the vote, while Bates received roughly 47 percent.
“I am just extremely, extremely thankful,” Frank said Tuesday night. She said her campaign focused on the promises she had made and kept.
She gave credit to the big Bates family, which seemed to have several volunteers at many polling stations, for working hard, especially on door-knocking. Frank said she plans to stay positive going into the August election and will discuss how to make Anderson County a better place to live, work, and do business.
“We’re just going to talk about the issues,” she said. “I hope we can all come together.”
Bates’ supporters were impressed with his performance in the election, coming within about 500 votes of Frank.
Frank is seeking re-election in August to what would be her first full four-year term. Hackworth, her Democratic challenger, is a former Anderson County commissioner.
There is no Democratic candidate for chancellor, meaning the Tuesday primary was essentially the general election in that race.
“I think it is fantastic to be the first female chancellor,” Nicki Cantrell said. Besides the positive message, she said her campaign also included a lot of hard work and door-to-door campaigning.
Cantrell said she still wants to implement a campaign proposal to find legal actions such as simple probates that residents could tackle themselves without hiring expensive lawyers. That proposal seemed to resonate with voters at candidate forums.
Dail Cantrell said Nicki will be the first female judge in a rural county in Tennessee in circuit and chancery court. Anderson County has previously had two female judges in Juvenile Court.
In the most crowded race on Tuesday, Republican Brian Hunt, who is Lake City municipal judge, defeated assistant district attorney Vickie Bannach and Oak Ridge attorney Lauren Biloski.
The vote tally was 3,022 for Hunt, 2,078 for Biloski, and 1,626 for Bannach. Hunt received about 45 percent of the vote.
In August, he will face off against attorney J. Michael Clement, who beat David Dunkirk in the only contested race in the Democratic primary on Tuesday. Clement had 765 votes, compared to 494 for Dunkirk.
In the race for sheriff, Republican Anthony Lay, who works for the Tennessee Highway Patrol and is a former Scott County Sheriff, beat Randy Myers, who recently resigned from the Oak Ridge Police Department in order to campaign full-time and has previously run for sheriff. Lay is challenging the incumbent, Democrat Paul White, in the Aug. 7 general election.
Candidates who were unopposed in the party primaries but face a general election challenge on Aug. 7 include White; Circuit Court Clerk Tyler Mayes, a Democrat, and his opponent, William Jones, a Republican; Register of Deeds Tim Shelton, a Democrat, and his opponent, Bill Gallaher, a Republican; Division I General Sessions Judge Don A. Layton, a Republican, and his opponent Ryan M. Spitzer, a Democrat; Division II General Sessions Judge Ron Murch, a Democrat, and his opponent, Roger Miller, a Republican.
Candidates who were unopposed in the party primaries and will also be unopposed in the Aug. 7 election include District Attorney General Dave Clark, a Democrat; Public Defender Tom Marshall, a Democrat; County Trustee Rodney Archer, a Democrat; Road Superintendent Gary Long, a Republican; Circuit and Criminal Court Judge Donald R. Elledge, a Democrat; and County Clerk Jeff Cole, a Democrat.
More than 5,000 people voted early, and 4,279 voted in the Republican primary while 732 voted in the Democratic election. Clinton had the most early voters with 2,001, Oak Ridge had 1,633, and Norris had 1,122. There were also 180 ballots by mail and 75 from nursing homes, according to unofficial results.
The total number of votes cast, including early voting, was 9,054. More than half of the votes were cast in early voting.
See the vote totals in contested races here.
See the complete results on the Anderson County Election Commission website.