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Public Notices

April 19, 2014

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County Commission, School Board Races Were Nail-Biters

Originally published: 2012-11-07 10:41:53
Last modified: 2012-11-07 10:43:22



Tuesday's contested races to fill a vacancy on the Greene County Commission and a vacancy on the Greene County Board of Education were extremely tight between the two leading candidates in each of the races.

William "Bill" Dabbs narrowly defeated Phil Gentry to return to his former 8th District seat on the Greene County Commission, according to Tuesday's unofficial results from the Greene County Election Commission office.

The vacancy on the Greene County Board of Education, however, resulted in a near-tie, with Deborah Johnson winning by only two votes over Mark Douthat.

Provisional ballots will be certified within the next several days, with the Election Commission likely to meet to certify the full election around Nov. 26, according to County Administrator of Elections Donna Burgner.

Burger said late Tuesday that she is not yet certain how many voters may have filed provisional ballots as a result of failing to bring in a photo identification, or for other causes.

In the uncontested race to fill the Circuit Court Clerk vacancy created by the mid-term retirement of Gail Davis Jeffers, however, only Republican candidate Pam Morrell Venerable qualified for the election. She received a large complimentary vote.


Four precincts make up the voting constituency for 8th District County Ccommission seat, including Highland Roby, Andrew Johnson, the Greene County Courthouse and Greeneville Middle School precincts.

There were 2,297 voters who cast their ballots in this race, which broke into the following votes for each candidate:

* 952 votes, or 41.45 percent, for William "Bill" Dabbs;

* 866 votes, or 37.7 percent, for Phil Gentry;

* 188 votes, or 8.18 percent, for Andrew Hillyer;

* 152 votes, or 6.62 percent, for Eddie O'Brien; and

* 135 votes, or 5.88 percent, for Russell Johnson; and,

* 4 write-in votes, or .17 percent.


Dabbs lost the 8th District seat to Brenda Grogan in the last County Commission election after having held the office for two terms.

The seat became vacant due to Grogan's death in August following a recent illness.

"I feel good," he said. "It's time for me to go celebrate.

"I'm appreciative of everything, [of] the citizens in the 8th District of Greene County for their support.

"I look forward to returning to the County Commission and working with Mayor Broyles and that legislative body," he added.

"I'm just thankful and happy."

Should his health still allow, he said, constituents can look for his name back on the ballot during the next election as well.


Gentry, who lost the race by only 86 votes, said that he was still a winner on Tuesday.

"I had a grandson born this morning in Knoxville who's doing fine, and my daughter's doing fine. I'm happy as a lark," he said.

"As far as the race, I'm happy for Bill Dabss and the other people that I ran against. It was a good campaign.

"It was clean-cut," he added. "Congratulations to Mr. Dabbs for winning that. I'm sure he'll represent the people of Greene County in the utmost."

Johnson issued much the same statement, saying, "I had fun and I enjoyed it. I hope he [Dabbs] does us a good job."

Hillyer praised the turnout, noting that the people spoke through their votes.

"Of course I'm disappointed that I didn't get elected, but there's always two years from now. We'll hope for the best," he said.

O'Brien also expressed his interest in running again -- not for County Commission, however, but for county mayor.

"I'm glad that Bill won," he said. "He's got a hard road ahead of him.

"I was in the race to win," O'Brien added, saying that he is proud of the votes he received. "I'll see all of them in election year 2014 for Greene County Mayor."


There were seven precincts voting in the 6th District School Board seat made vacant earlier this year by the death of Claude "Junior" Weems Jr.

The precincts are: McDonald, Warrensburg, Mohawk, Mt. Carmel, South Greene, Mosheim and Mosheim Corporation.

There were 2,851 voters who cast their ballots in the school board race, which broke into the following votes for each candidate:

* 1,169 votes, or 41 percent, for Johnson;

* 1,167 votes, or 40.93 percent, for Douthat;

* 509 votes, or 17.85 percent, for Gary Gass; and,

* 6 write-in votes, or .21 percent.


Late Tuesday, Johnson spoke with confidence of having secured the seat, while Douthat spoke of the race as more of a tie, with final results only to be known after the official tallying of the votes by the Greene County Election Commission -- a process that generally takes at least a couple weeks.

"I would like to thank all the people that supported my campaign and brought us to this outcome," Johnson said late Tuesday.

"I would also like to acknowledge the other candidates of this race. The people of this district should be proud that they volunteered their time to this and offered their service to the county.

"We worked full-time on this campaign and do not intend to put any less effort into service to the board.

"It is now time for us to come toegether and focus our efforts to work to give the students of the county the best possible education."


Douthat answered his phone Tuesday night with cheer, noting that the close vote kept the race "interesting."

"I will just wait to get the official vote tallies in," he said. "I'm sure the people at the Election Commission will do what needs to be done to make sure it's correct."

He said he would most likely not look for a recount of votes past the official announcement.

"If she's the winner, I wish her the best of luck," he added.

"I think we've got one of the best director of schools in the state of Tennessee. The board and the director have things headed in the right direction. I look forward to continued improvement."

As for his chances of running again in the future, he said, "We'll just have to look at that when it comes. At this point, I couldn't tell you for sure."


Gass, meanwhile, was complimentary of both of his opponents.

"I just want to thank everybody that did vote for me to support me," he said.

"If Deborah is the winner, I wish her the best luck and success. I'm sure she will do the right thing for the students of Greene County.

"I have nothing derogatory to say about either candidate. It was a clean race, and I enjoyed being a part of it," he added.

"I would support either one of them in anything they might desire. The important thing is the students of Greene County."


Venerable was appointed by the County Commission to fill the position of Circuit Court Clerk Gail Davis Jeffers, who retired. Venerable had served as deputy circuit court clerk for a number of years.

"I would just like to thank everyone that turned out to vote today," Venerable said on Tuesday. "I think the turnout was awesome. I certainly appreciate all the complimentary votes."

She received 17,431 complimentary votes, for 99.15 percent of the 17,580 who voted in this race. The remaining 149 were write-in votes.

For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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