Municipal election season is upon us and this one brings a large group of candidates running for mayor and aldermen.
Both Covington and Atoka’s mayors have decided not to toss their hats into the ring in 2022. Justin Hanson announced in May he would not seek re-election while Atoka mayor Darryl Walker has not made a public announcement. Only Barry Akin, who has served the town as alderman since 2010, qualified to run for Walker’s seat. Walker has been Atoka’s mayor since 2010.
In Covington, and in Mason, there are four mayoral candidates each.
Alderman John Edwards is making his second run for mayor and current vice mayor, Johnetta Yarbrough, has decided to run as well. Both represent District 1, which means several potential outcomes are possible. Yarbrough’s term is up, so if she loses the bid for mayor she will no longer be an elected official. If Edwards is elected mayor, this would leave two open seats in District 1. Challengers Jerry Hall and Martha “Jean” Johnson are running for aldermen in that district. Should Edwards lose, he will retain his seat and either Hall or Johnson would be elected to fill the vacancy.
Roderick Hickman, who owns Generational Wealth Builders and recently ran for county commission, and Jan Hensley, the owner of All Day Lawn, are also running for mayor.
On an historic note, this is the first mayoral race in Covington in which 75% of the candidates are people of color.
In Mason, mayor Emmitt Gooden has qualified to run for a second term as mayor. Vice mayor Virginia Rivers, current alderman Eddie Noeman, and Thomas Burrell have also qualified to run.
Garland’s mayor Kelley Gray is also up for re-election and is running unopposed.
Aldermen races bring dozens of candidates
As has happened the last several elections, Atoka’s candidate pool has at least double the number of expired terms. Aldermen Danny Feldmayer, Barry Akin, and John Harber are up for re-election and both Feldmayer and Harber are hoping to retain their positions. Also running are former public works director Daniel Lovett, newly-retired fire chief Henry Posey and newcomers Matt Peters and Chris Schaeffer Jr.
In addition to Hall and Johnson running in Covington’s District 1, alderman Jeff Morris is running unopposed for a second term in District 2 and alderman Danny Wallace has opposition from longtime police officer Jay Black in District 3. Black worked for the Covington Police Department for more than two decades before leaving for Atoka. If elected, he would be a second generation alderman like Edwards.
Mason aldermen Carolyn Catron, Sylvester Harvey, and Eddie Noeman are up for re-election. While Noeman is running for mayor, Catron and Harvey are running for re-election. They will be challenged by Alethea Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mason and Carolyn Weaver.
Munford also has nearly double the number of candidates as open positions. Vice mayor Sue Arthur and alderman Glenn Turner, who is a county commissioner, will not be seeking re-election. Jack Bomar, whose term is also expiring, has qualified to run for another term. He will be joined on the ballot by Steve Childress, Richard Cramer, Tony Gutkowski, and Carl Robertson.
Not enough qualifiers in smaller towns
While Tipton County’s larger towns have more than enough candidates for their vacancies, that’s not the case for the smaller incorporated areas.
In Burlison, councilman Danny Howard is the only one up for re-election. He is running unopposed.
In Garland, Kelley Gray is running unopposed for another term as mayor, Heath Free is running for another term as alderman, and Lisa McClain is running for another term as town recorder. There are five other seats for aldermen and only Liz Newman has qualified to run to fill the vacancies. Two of those spots were already vacant and aldermen David Fike, Audrey Peach, and Clayton Wilson will not be running for another term.
In Gilt Edge, Brian Shoemaker and Donna Fletcher are up for re-election and only Fletcher has qualified.
Brighton elects its full board of mayor and aldermen at the same time, whereas others stagger terms, and their elections coincide with the presidential elections.
Sawall challenging Moody
Veteran Nick Sawall has qualified as an independent candidate to run against Republican Debra Moody, who was first elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2012. Moody ran unopposed in her primary.
It is The Leader’s intention to host candidate forums where there are contested races. A forum for Covington’s mayoral and aldermen candidates will be held on Thursday, Sept. 29. Dates for the remaining the races have not yet been finalized.