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January 16, 2018

Petition pickups begin 

Barbara Womack
Grainger Today Correspondent  

RUTLEDGE – Grainger County Administrator of Elections Gina Hipsher said she will not be involved in any activity related to the county mayor’s election in the May 1 county Republican primary. 

Her husband, incumbent County Mayor Mark Hipsher, picked up a petition Friday, the first day of qualifying. 

“Lori Bailey (her assistant) will handle all the paperwork for that election,” she said Monday. 

Mark Hipsher was mayor when his wife was appointed administrator in 2015. 

“The election commission discussed this and checked with the state. There were no stipulations to my appointment,” she said. 

According to Adam Ghassemi, director of communications for the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, “Nothing in state law specifically prohibits an immediate family member of an administrator of elections from being a candidate. However, administrators do take an oath to be impartial and must maintain fairness toward all candidates while performing their duties.”  

In 2014, a member of the Hawkins County Election Commission, Teresa Houston Greer, took a leave of absence while her husband, Johnny Greer, was running for county mayor. She said she did it because of public perception. 

Several other present officeholders have also picked up petitions to run for reelection.  

Those who picked up petitions were County Clerk Angie Jackson Lamb, Trustee Rena (Farrow) Greer, Register of Deeds Rick Diamond and Circuit Court Clerk Sherry Clifton. Charlie McAnally picked up a petition to seek the county road superintendent’s job now held by Jimmy Renfro. 

For County Commission, incumbents Darrell Williams in the 3rd District and Becky Samsel Johnson in the 5th District picked up a petition. Also picking up a petition for County Commission was Justin Epperson in the 4th District. He is running for the first time. 

Truman Coffey picked up a petition for constable in the 5th District. 

The other county office to be filled next year is sheriff. 

Completed petitions must be returned by Feb. 15, the qualifying deadline. 

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