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A VIEW from LICK SKILLET by Gerald Largen: Introducing Jack McNew, legislative candidate

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Well, dear friends, we have survived another general election, which produced mostly expected outcomes, but still enough of the unexpected to prompt some post-election comments, but, before we get into those, we should remind you of the Princess Theatre’s plans for tomorrow evening.

We told you last week about the “Talk is Cheap Tour,” featuring Sam Venable, Jim Claborn, Elizabeth Rose and Bill Landry. You may well have seen the lengthy write-up that appeared in Sunday’s News Sentinel about what promises to be one of the more entertaining programmes to be presented locally in some time.

So, just to refresh your recollection, it’s tomorrow, 11 August, at 7 p. m. and the cost is $15 or $25 for the show and a post-show reception with the cast.
For tickets call 882-8867.
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Now, turning to the election: We had always thought that the parties should have primaries to pick candidates for the county offices.

The Democrats established a primary several years ago, but after one election abandoned the effort.

The Republicans had a primary this year, but we suspect that they will follow the Democratic pattern and not have another.

It appears that Roane Countians, no matter how strongly they profess their partisan loyalty are unprepared to allow that loyalty to determine their choices at the ballot box.

As you no doubt know the two Republican nominees came in last in their respective races.

Steven Robinette, who ran for Property Assessor garnered 1,954 votes out of a total of 10,719 votes cast, which was on a percentage basis 18.23 percent, while Brian Mullins, Republican nominee for Road Superintendent, received 2,755 votes (801 more than his fellow Republican nominee, Robinette), out of a total of 10,848 votes cast, or 25.40 percent.

These results came despite the fact that 7,883 votes were cast in the Republican Primary in the race for 3rd District Congressman.

So just over a third of the folks identifying themselves as Republicans when it came to the congressional race chose to vote for the Republican nominee for the Road office and just over a fourth of them voted for the Republican nominee for Assessor.

Thus we are sure there will be much analysis and much calculation before the 2014 election as to whether there should be a Republican primary for county offices since the nomination could well be considered the kiss of death insofar as potential candidates for the county offices are concerned.

Both the Assessor’s and Road Superintendent’s races showed a curious phenomenon. In the Assessor’s, Teresa Kirkham won the absentees with 40 percent, while David Morgan got 33.9 percent; at the time of early voting Teresa’s dropped to 37.84 percent  while David’s rose to 40.68 percent; and just a few days later at the general election, Teresa had dropped to 31.76 percent and David had risen to 42.02 percent.

The same pattern played out in the Road race. Dennis Ferguson went from 48.66 percent in the absentees, to 46.14 percent in the early voting, and fell to 42.65 percent on election day.

And Jim Beason rose each time, from 25.50 percent, to 28.36 percent, to 32.08 percent on election day.

Another oddity is that in every race except the Jim Cobb/Ron Travis race for 31st Dist. State Representative, and the Massengill/Lyle School Board race, the number of early votes was greater than the election day vote totals.

Incidentally, in the Cobb/Travis race, Rep. Cobb had been working so hard to ingratiate himself with his new constituents in Roane County that he won here by more than 2 to 1, or 69.75 percent to 30.25 percent, so he lost his race with his old constituents apparently.

In the two contested Democratic Primary races, that for the 3rd Dist. Congressional seat and the U.S. Senate seat, the ladies won in Roane County, with Dr. Mary Headrick winning a convincing total of 65.31 percent to Bill Taylor’s 34.69 percent.

And in the senate race Park Overall got 25.02 percent of the Roane County vote to lead the pack of seven aspiring candidates.

This particular race is taking an unusual twist inasmuch as there is a move afoot to deny the statewide winner, Mark E. Clayton, the nomination because of past positions and actions, the full details of which we are not yet aware. It may prove interesting, if not particularly fruitful.

And so we may retire this election to the history books with congratulations to all the winners, accompanied by the fervent hope that they will, each and all, prove to be the good and faithful public servants that their supporters thought them to be.
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Now that the August general election is a thing of the past, we can turn our attention to the November election.

The only purely local aspect of that election will be for the 32nd Dist. State Representative seat which has been held by Julia Hurley for the past two years.

This contest will be between Kent Calfee, as the Republican nominee, and a newcomer, Jack McNew, as the Democratic nominee.

We know both these gentlemen and think that we can look forward to a hard-fought, but fairly-fought race.

Kent has been a candidate in previous elections and has served in county government so he should be well known.

However, this is a maiden voyage on the sea of electoral politics for his opponent.

Since his is a new face on the political scene, we asked for and received some background information about Jack McNew.

Here’s some of what we found out:
Jack was born in Lebanon, Virginia, the eldest of seven children. From Lebanon, his subsequent life, like so many before him, has been one of gradual southwestward movement: first to Abingdon where he entered school; then to Bristol, Tenn., where he graduated from high school; then to Knoxville and U.T.; then Oak Ridge where he worked at the plants as an electrician/instrument technician for 36 years until retirement.

In the meantime he served four years in the Naval Reserve.

He holds a degree of B.S. in Business Management. Jack moved to Roane County in 1999. He has devoted much time and effort to various non-profit organizations including:
• Habitat for Humanity, with four years on the board of directors, two years as president.
• Roane Choral Society Board of Directors (in a non-singing role, he says).
• Volunteer Income Tax Assistance for five years giving free assistance to those who could not afford help in tax preparation.
• Seven years with his Presbyterian church’s prison ministry, and five years as a sworn advocate for abused and neglected children in Roane and Loudon counties, as well as founding chair of CASA for the 9th Judicial District.
• Ten years with Destination Imagination to help children with problem solving.
With this background one can see that his slogan, “Jack Cares,” is based on performance.
His legislative goals include better education for our children with better schools, not just bigger classrooms, as well as adult retraining to allow these adults to qualify for better jobs now going unfilled for lack of qualified workers with necessary skills.

His final promise is, “This Candidate is Not for Sale.”