By Mike Steely

Early voting for Knox County and presidential candidates is underway. The Knox County Election Commission reported, as of Friday morning, that 4,318 people have voted in person or sent absentee ballots.

Four people within the county chose to vote in the non-partisan school board races only.

Republicans are the majority party in the county and 2,541 have voted thus far in the primary.  The Democratic Primary has seen 1,771 voters.

By far the most popular voting site, as usual, has been at Downtown West with 777 voters.  Farragut, which has its own city election, has seen 596 voters. New Harvest Park has seen 420 voters during the first two days followed by Halls, with 336 voters, Clinton Highway (Expo Center) with 302 voters and the City-County Building with 274 ballots cast.  Karns has seen 258 voters. The South Early Voting place (Meridian Baptist Church) has seen 193 voters, 122 at Carter, and 116 people have voted at the Love Kitchen.

Early voting ends February 25th and the Primary Election is March 3rd.

While the local and Presidential Preference Primary is going on candidates for state offices are picking up qualifying petitions for re-election or election. Several candidates are being challenged.

That primary and the general election for Knox County candidates is August 6th.

The latest information shows that incumbent candidates have picked up petitions recently including Senator Becky Duncan Massey. Representatives Gloria Johnson, Rick Staples, Martin Daniels and Justine Lafferty have petitions in hand.

New to the race is petition holder Coleen Martinez, who would probably face Lafferty. Drew Burnett also has picked up a petition for Ward 2 Alderman in Farragut.

Earlier petitions were issued for Congressman Tim Burchett and Democratic challenger Chance C. Brown. Announced Democratic candidate Renee Hoyos, who opposed Burchett in the last election, has not yet picked up a petition.

Sam Brown has a petition as a Democrat to face Becky Massey.

Incumbent Jason Zachary and Justin Davis may face each other for the state District 14 house race.

School board member Patti Lou Bounds and Commissioner Michele Carringer are facing off in the Republican Primary to replace retiring state legislator Bill Dunn in the 16th District.

Dave Wright, incumbent Republican in District 19, thus far has no opponent as he seeks to be reelected to the state house.

Matthew Park has a petition to face incumbent Staples and Pete Drew picked up a petition as a Republican to face the winner. Michael Covington has a petition as an Independent in that race. Former commissioner and fellow Democrat Sam McKenzie picked up a petition to oppose Staples in the Primary.