Stacey Smith remains on ballot

By Mike Steely

Senior Writer

Three names will remain on the August 1st ballot for the 9th District Knox County Commission seat. The Election Commission heard a complaint filed by Martin Ammons Friday evening that challenged the signatures on the petition submitted by Stacey Bryan Smith.

Ammons, a supporter of the Republican Party nominee Andy Fox, told the election commission that Smith not only submitted a campaign petition with questionable signatures and addresses but that Smith also violated finance statement deadlines, misled voters with the wrong election date, and signatures on the petition did not match those signatures on file with the election commission.

“He has been misleading voters and has disregarded Tennessee law,” Ammons told the hearing.

The only actionable matter among the charges was Ammons questioning the petition signatures. Each of the commission members asked both Ammons and Smith several questions and Smith brought several residents who swore they had legally signed his petition.

Knox County Election Administrator Chris Davis said the signatures were looked at closely and 26 were accepted. He said address changes occur from original voter registrations and signatures change over time.  He and the commission members, Chairwoman Hannah Hooper, Secretary Julie Gautreau, Bob Bowman, Eddie Smith and Adronicus Thomas went over several signatures and addresses to confirm the necessary signatures were acceptable.

“We all know what this is about,” Smith told the hearing. The former Republican said he didn’t feel at home with either main political party and chose to run as an Independent. Some Fox supporters fear that Smith’s candidacy will draw votes from Fox. Democrat challenger Matthew Park watched the hearing from the audience.

“There’s a fox in the hen house in District Nine,” he said.

Of the race for the commission seat Smith said he wanted to “back out” several times but did not.

“I’m not hiding anything, there’s a better way to govern than either side,” he said of the Republican and Democratic parties.

The election commission members then voted unanimously that Smith is qualified to seek the office with Bowman saying he is “deeply troubled” by Smith’s failure to file campaign financial statements on time.