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Gibson County voter turnout at 41%

VOTING – Bob and Ruthie Garvin cast their ballots last week on Election Day at Humboldt Church of Christ polling location in Humboldt. A little over 40-percent of the registered voters in Gibson County participated in the November 8 election this year.

by Danny Wade

Gibson Countians came out in low numbers for last Tuesday’s election. Of the 31,286 registered voters, only 12,826 casted their ballot. Less than half the voters (41-percent) participated in this election.

By comparison, in the 2018 General Election, 16,491 voters took part in the democratic process, accounting for 55.71-percent of the total registered voters.

Despite the low turnout, Gibson County Election Administrator Emily Brown said that the election was a success.

The majority of Gibson County voters chose to vote on Election Day with 7,447 going to the polls. There were 5,231 who early voted while 149 voted absentee.

Humboldt only had one local position on the ballot. John Blankenship ran to fill the vacant Gibson County Commission District 4 seat. Blankenship pulled in 212 complimentary votes as he ran unopposed.

Neighboring Medina had aldermen positions to fill with three candidates vying for two seats. Scottie Betts was the top vote getter with 766 votes followed closely by Kevin Painter’s 645. Challenger Mary Ellington Varner earned a respectable 311 votes, which was not enough to win a seat on the Medina City Board.

Also on Medina’s ballot was a referendum to allow liquor by the drink. Voters selected to vote “For premises consumption” or “Against premises consumption”. Nearly two-thirds of the votes—743—were for liquor by the drink compared to 463 against.

Gibson voters selected a mayor and two aldermen positions. Incumbent mayor, Jimmie Hill, ran unopposed and garnered 93 votes. Incumbent aldermen, Chris Houck and Josh Meales were the only two on the ballot. Houck finished with 79 votes while Meales pulled in 69 votes.

In Three Way, Mayor Larry Sanders and Alderlady Mary Ann Tremblay ran unopposed for re-election. Sanders received 636 votes while Tremblay collected 628 votes.

Also in Three Way, State Senator Ed Jackson and State Representative Chris Todd were re-elected.

With the Tennessee governor race on the ballot, Gibson County voters went “red” and helped re-elect Governor Bill Lee for a second term. Lee pulled over three-fourths of the total vote in Gibson County with 9,640. Democratic candidate Jason Martin received 2,669 votes or 21.9-percent. There were eight independent candidates that had a minuscule 2.27-percent of the total county vote.

When Tennessee redistricted earlier this year after results from the 2020 census, Gibson County, which was totally in House District 79, was split into two districts—District 79 and District 82.

For District 79, Republican Brock Martin easily pulled Gibson County with 5,536 or 77.25-percent of the vote. Democrat Thomas Jefferson received 22.63-percent with 1,622 votes.

House District 82 had only one candidate on the ballot, Republican Chris Hurt. Hurt garnered 4,091 votes in Gibson County.

Republican U.S Congressman David Kustoff ran for re-election and faced off against Democrat Lynnette Williams for the 2-year term. Gibson Countians voted “red” for Kustoff with 9,619 votes, 78.5-percent of the vote. Williams pulled in a little under 20-percent with 2,406 votes. Two independent candidates only managed less than 2-percent of the total vote in Gibson County.

There were four Tennessee Constitutional Amendments of the ballot. All four were approved by Tennessee voters and Gibson County was part of that trend.

Amendment 1 was tagged “The Right to Work” amendment. Tennessee has a right to work law on the books but adding it to the state constitution further keeps the law in place, giving Tennessee workers the right to join a union or not. Gibson Countians voted to approve the amendment with almost three-fourths of the vote at 8,649 compared to 3,061 voting against.

Amendment 2 addresses the governor’s seat and who would be in charge in the event the governor is temporarily unable to perform the duties. If the governor cannot perform those duties, the lieutenant governor, which is the Speaker of the Senate, will assume those duties as well as his or her duties in the state senate. Gibson County voters approved this amendment 7,753 for and 2,899 against—about 73-percent voting for the amendment.

The third constitutional amendment prohibits slavery in Tennessee. Slavery has been against the law for years but language in the constitution allowed incarcerated individuals to be forced into labor. To most people, this is a no-brainer but 3,015 Gibson Countians voted against this amendment while 8,258 voted for. Perhaps the amendment’s language confused some voters to think a “no” vote meant voting against slavery.

Amendment 4 dealt with allowing clergy the ability to run for public office in the Tennessee General Assembly. Gibson County voters chose to remove the ban on clergy serving in the General Assembly with 7,124 votes to approve the amendment while 3,738 voted against.

There were other elections for various cities and school systems in Gibson County. Trenton voters elected a mayor and aldermen, Milan elected aldermen while Milan Special School District elected two trustees, Dyer elected a mayor and aldermen, Bradford elected a mayor and aldermen, Kenton elected a mayor and city judge, and one constable was elected.

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