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Candidates emerging in 2022

When it comes to local elections, it doesn’t get much bigger than 2022. Major city and county offices are all going to be on the line, with more and more challengers announcing by the day.

Every election is headline news, but there are years when only a handful of positions are on the line. In 2022 elections, there will be 56 positions go on the ballot, including highly visible jobs like county executive, sheriff, district attorney, public defender and two judge seats.

With nearly a year before state and federal primary and state and county general elections are held (Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022), there is already some buzz about who will be throwing their name in the hat and running for office. In the last month, Joseph Stotts and Terry Bell have each made it clear they will seek the Republication nomination for county executive in the May 3 primary.

Jimmy Haley is county executive, having been elected in 2018 when he won 55.5 percent of the vote (5,434 votes) in a four-person race which also included Bell (3,067 votes, 31.3 percent), Ray Hixson and Allie Hyatt. Haley has yet to make a formal announcement on if he will seek a second term.

One factor in Stotts and Bell seeking a Republication nomination is the need for primaries to be called. According to the Tennessee Security of State website, the deadline to call for a primary (by either party) is Monday, Aug. 23. In the 2018 election, Haley and Bell each ran as independents, but there is an expectation both parties will call for primaries before deadlines and more candidates will have their name in that primary election May 3.

More challengers are already lining up for other positions as well. Ryan J. Moore has already announced his intention to run for general sessions judge (and the Republican nomination), while Jackie Matheny Jr. is looking to follow in his father’s footsteps and become Warren County’s sheriff.

William ‘Bill’ Locke is the current general sessions judge, a position he has held since he was appointed to fill the spot following Larry Ross’ retirement in January 2012. Locke retained the seat months later in a four-person race, then again in 2014, defeating Jean Brock when the position was last on the ballot (4,265 votes to 3,738 votes). Locke hasn’t made an official announcement on if he will seek reelection.

The sheriff position was one that has a number of suitors in 2018, but Tommy Myers emerged from a packed field victorious. Myers was able to edge Marc Martin by 72 votes in a six-field race, which saw four different candidates receive more than 1,000 votes and three top 2,000 votes (Myers won with 2,473 votes, followed by Martin – 2,401 votes – and Rodney Whiles – 2,225 votes).

It remains to be seen if the job will attract as many candidates this time around. The sheriff office was highly desired by multiple people in 2018 when it became known that the longtime incumbent, Jackie Matheny Sr., would not seek reelection after 24 years in the position.

Offices which have attracted several candidates in the past and will be on the ballot in 2022 include (current office holder in parentheses): county clerk (Lesa M. Scott), register of deeds (Wes Williams), trustee (Darlene Bryant), circuit court clerk (Casi Cantrell), superintendent of roads (Levie Glenn), circuit court judge (Larry ‘Bart’ Stanley, Jr.), district attorney (Lisa Zavogiannis) and public defender (John Partin).

Also on the ballot in 2022 are all 24 county commissioner seats, 12 constable positions, three school board seats (currently held by James Bennett, Helen Martin and Sue Anderson), three city aldermen positions (currently held by Everett Brock, Steve Harvey and Zach Sutton), the Morrison mayor (Sue Anderson, incumbent) and two Morrison aldermen positions.

The first day to pick up petitions for 2022 elections is Monday, Dec. 20. The qualifying deadline for the May election is Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022 at noon.


What we’re monitoring

The following are the thoughts and analysis of WCSA editor-in-chief Jeffery Simmons.

First, I always want to point out that once you see the line above, a new title and the disclaimer that this is my thoughts, then you should know we’ve moved from reporting and straight to opinion. That is a critical distinction and something I will continue to point out as the WCSA expands to Election coverage in 2022. People got so fed up with how they were hearing/reading reporting around here – news mixed with personal feelings – that they asked me to start this coverage.

It’s the No. 1 reason I run all candidate announcements as they are sent and why I’ll continue to present all news as I did above –just facts and what is happening. If you don’t want my opinion, and I’m sure there will be some who don’t, then you can stop at the line.

If you’ve hung around, then here are some of the things I’m tracking as more people likely make their decisions to challenge or defend in the coming weeks (the fair is coming up soon, those shirts and signs are going to come out in full force by then):

  • The aldermen race in the city is going to be super interesting, in my opinion. We already saw how crowded the field was in 2020, when Sally Brock, Rachel Kirby and Stacey Harvey emerged from an eight-person ballot. Three more who were on their heels and garnered over 1,000 votes (Jay Medley – 1,081, Keri Morton – 1,069 and Rickey Jones – 1,064) were passed over in 2020 when Ryle Chastain vacated an alderman position after his win the mayor election.

Sutton was appointed, which came at a meeting where there were some clear objection from some on the board and the citizens who spoke. Sutton’s seat is one of three – along with Everett Brock and Steve Harvey – which will likely draw a ton of names next year.

Will any of the 1,000-plus vote getters try again? I’m going to go out on a limb and say yes (though I haven’t confirmed it with any of them).

  • If both parties call for a primary – and I’m sure both will – then I think that the republican primary will have a larger turnout locally. That’s no insignificant statement when you realize back in 2018, over 4,500 people voted in democratic primary races and just 550 voted in a republican runoff.

It’s not that long ago that I remember people telling me that if you wanted to be elected in Warren County, you had to run democrat. I didn’t really care at the time – I was in college and more focused on if Phillip Fulmer was going to turn around the Vols (okay, maybe it was kind of long ago).

When I got into local coverage, I continued to hear that sentiment for a while, but it’s changed in the last 4-5 years. I’ll never forget being at a debate in 2016 and seeing a candidate for a state job hold up a Trump sign and the crowd going crazy. In that moment, I knew two things: that guy was going to win his election (and he did) and that any candidate with a D beside their name isn't walking right into a win in Warren County.

Of the four potential candidates I’ve seen put out public announcements to run (three of which we’ve ran on our site), three have made it known they’ll seek a republican nomination. The fourth was Matheny Jr., who is running for sheriff – a job that really feels apolitical, to me at least.

Primary voting always comes down to which one has the most contested races. Sometimes you’ll see people just run independent to avoid it, but right now that doesn’t seem to be the trend. If there are tight races in both primaries in May (I’m thinking there will be a few), it should only drive more turnout when the people who come out victorious the first time around clash head-to-head later in 2022.

  • Even with the WCSA just dipping its toe into election coverage, it has already blown up. I’m getting flooded with questions from people and I think our campaign announcements have been a hit so far (I’m expecting to have more soon). I expected the second part – free publicity is always welcome, and I like to think we’re doing it the right way too.

What I didn’t expect was people immediately viewing me as a political insider, on par with how I’m quizzed on Pioneer sports on a day-to-day basis. It took me 11 years morph into the full-functioning Warren County Sports Authority, so don’t expect me to have all the answers to your election questions right now.

As for what I’m asked, it’s the big two: Who is running and who isn’t going to run? I can’t tell you with 100 percent certainty on anything, but I do have thoughts on some places. Just based on the fact I know Wes Williams (register of deeds) and Casi Cantrell (circuit court clerk) are around my age, I would be floored if either decides one term was enough in their respective decisions.

Both had to fight hard for their positions in 2018. Williams topped Terry Smith after he served five terms in the primary, then beat the very popular Danny Cummings and Tim Grandey in the general election. Powell was pressed hard in the primary by Melanie Milstead, then held off Chris Cope to take office. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of those same challengers reemerge in 2022.

  • In other seats, I would assume Darlene Bryant will try to make it 20 years as trustee with another win. She first won the position in 2006 and is coming off a nearly 2,700-vote victory in 2018.

Lesa Scott and Levie Glenn ran unopposed in 2018. If no challenger emerges for them, then who is going to blame them for continuing to hold office? I wouldn’t.

It’s been eight years since Zavogiannis, Stanley, Partin and Locke won elections for their respective positions. Will all them want to sign up for eight more years? I’m dubious – my guess is at least one doesn’t put their name on the ballot again in 2022.

  • Last thing – I expect there to be a HUGE number of people go out for county commission seats in 2022. In 2018, the 24 seats in 12 districts drew 46 names to the ballot. Only the District 6 (Phillip Stout and Deborah Evans) and 7 commissioners (Gary Martin and Tommy Savage) knew they were winners when the day began.

Personally, with all the shock and awe that has come from the board over the last four years, I would think every seat is going to be challenged this year – and by multiple people in every district. I also can’t see a scenario where many people will decide to drop their seat and let somebody come in with ease. It’s been years of fireworks from that board – those fires may be simmering at the moment, but they haven’t been fully extinguished.

I hope you’re as excited about the 2022 Elections as I am! Again, this is a public PSA to any candidate that is looking to announce: We’ll put out your announcement (in front of the paywall) on the Warren County Sports Authority website. Just email me at and we’ll work it out.

The Warren County Sports Authority was established in August 2020 and has reached over 70,000 visitors in its first year. Editor-in-chief Jeffery Simmons is the lone employee and he has voted in both republican and democrat primaries since turning 18 in 2004. Simmons has only publicly endorsed three local candidates – his brother Brett Simmons (mayor race, 2020), his stepfather John Morgan (sheriff race, 2018) and his grandfather Norman Rone (mayor race, 2012). He also wanted the junior float to beat the seniors on homecoming in 2010.

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