With over 5,900 people voting and 3,271 of those coming in early voting, Rhea Countians elected a new county executive and several new commissioners for the next four years. Jim Vincent, who has been interim county executive since George Thacker had to step down after pleading guilty to wire fraud, was the winner. He led the field of seven by getting 1,585 votes to his closest challenger, Dayton Fire Department Assistant Chief Adam McRorie with 1,168 votes. Brittany Dean-Fisher received 967 votes followed by Dustin Henderson with 903.
County Commissioner Rusty Rogers had 486 votes with Jeremy Horton getting 467. Marty Revis was at the end of the pack with 134 votes.
Mr. Vincent, a former County Commissioner in Hamilton County and state legislator, was chairman of the commission and represented the Seventh District after being appointed in 2019 after the death of Commissioner Ronnie Raper.
Mr. Vincent bested Masen Cheeks in a 2020 race to fill the remainder of the term.
He said, “I really appreciate the county electing me and putting their faith and confidence in me. I truly love Rhea County and the people of Rhea County. It was an honor to serve the county as a whole. I love this community. We are blessed to live in Rhea County. I am ready to go to work for the best of this county."
Mr. Vincent, who had thought of retirement after he turned 75 this year, decided to run for the county executive spot after the Thacker resignation.
Only commissioners Jim Reed and Emily Fugate did not face opposition. They will be joined by incumbent District 1 Commissioner Billy Thedford, who beat Jonathan Roberts by only 39 votes. This was Mr. Roberts' first time venturing into politics.
Incumbent 3rd District Commissioner Phillip Dunn breezed back to serve four years on the commission besting Jennifer Gentry by 190 votes. Former County Commissioner Grover Parks received 29 votes. Mr. Dunn was appointed to the County Commission in November after the death of Harold Fisher.
Fourth District Incumbent Leo Stephens held off challenges from two-time candidate Jack Kauffman. Commissioner Stephens got 327 votes to Mr. Kauffman’s 136. Joe Burgess finished with 149 votes.
Sandy Francisco held off a challenge by realtor Bailey Hufstetler getting 58 percent of the vote to his 42 percent.
With Jim Vincent deciding not to run for the Seventh District seat, Tommy Ballard won the post beating his closest opponent Bradlee Brown by 108 votes.
Bill Hollin, who has been on the commission for over 20 years, was defeated by newcomer Nick Welch in his first race. Mr. Welch gathered 68 percent of the vote to Mr. Hollins' 32 percent.
Mark Cashman will replace Ninth District Commissioner Rusty Rogers after holding off two others. Mr. Cashman garnered 206 votes to Jimbo Miles' 175. Walden’s Ridge resident Lealan McSpadden carried 144 votes.
Jane Scott Graham, a retired teacher from the Rhea County School System, will become a new member of the Rhea County School Board. She beat Anthony Roddy 325 to 76. Brenda Hill, who had been on the board, decided not to run this year.
In the only other contested school board race, Dennis Akin defeated Doug Colvin 623 to 203. Current board member Dale Harris was defeated by Mr. Akin in the May primary.
The other three school board races were not contested. Returning for four-year terms are Johnny Mincy, Perry Massengill and Henry Reid.
Incumbents Sheriff Mike Neal, Circuit Court Clerk Jamie Holloway, Trustee Neva Webb, Registrar of Deeds Teresa Hulgan, General Sessions Judge Jace Cochran, and longtime Court Clerk Linda Shaver all were re-elected without opposition. Ms. Webb led the elected officials getting a 4,668 complimentary vote. Mrs. Shaver has been in office for 24 years making her the current longest serving elected official. She started in 1978 working for Court Clerk Jimmy Wilkey and took over from him when he was elected county executive in 1998.
Sheriff Neal now becomes the longest serving sheriff in the history of Rhea County besting Leon Sneed by four years. Sheriff Neal also holds the accolade of being the youngest sheriff elected in Rhea County. He has been in office since 2002 beating Chief Deputy Charlie Byrd for the top cop spot.