Lewisburg election coming soon

Friday, April 22, 2011

Lewisburg's May 3 election pits an incumbent against a challenger and three men campaigning against each other for an open seat.

Despite the drama that could generate, and the crowds of interested voters at City Hall meetings recently, election commissioners describe early voting as "slow."

"We have had a total of 76 to vote from Day 1," Elections Administrator Jo Ann Henry said on Wednesday. After today's Good Friday holiday, early voting continues from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday next week. Early voting ends at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 28.

Voting in the two-ward election ends at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 3.

* Ward 1, now represented by Councilman Quinn Brandon Stewart, who's moving from her jurisdiction, has three men -- Robert Christoph, Jeff Henson and Steve Thomas ---campaigning for the open seat. On election day, voters cast ballots at the poll in the Lewisburg Gas Department building on North Ellington Parkway.

* Ward 5 has been represented by Robin Minor for four years. He's challenged by Jeff Payne. Minor is retiring May 26 after a long career as a teacher at Lewisburg Middle School. Payne, a 1995 Marshall County High School graduate who studied engineering at the University of Tennessee, repairs and installs industrial batteries, chargers, and handling equipment, mostly for forklifts.

Election Day-voting for residents of Ward 5 is at Westhills Elementary School on West Ellington Parkway.

There are 1,060 registered voters in Ward 1, and 1,198 registered voters in Ward 5.

Ward 5

"Lewisburg is going through some hard times right now, and we need some new perspectives on the City Council," Payne, 33, of Summerset Circle, said. "I want to make Lewisburg a better place to live for us and our children.

"I grew up here and I've lived in Lewisburg most of my life," Payne said. "I am honored to be a citizen of Lewisburg, and I look forward to giving back to this community."

He and his wife, Connie, will have been married six years in May. Their son, Jason, will be three in July.

Payne says he advocates commitment, integrity and energy and that he would be a "working man working for you," the residents of Lewisburg.

Minor "had not planned to run" again, he said. His family didn't want him to, but his wife, Pat, "had talked to some people and they said [he] had to" run, Minor said.

That was during an interview last month when broad issues were addressed as open-ended questions were asked. He saw the budget as a major issue, noting that without City Treasurer Connie Edde and now former City Manager Eddie Fuller the city wouldn't have a budget this year.

Minor advocates the work by City Industrial Development Director Greg Lowe and says he's interested in helping businesses create more jobs. To that end, Minor said that since he will be retired during the next term, then he will have more time to attend Industrial Development Board meetings at noon on the first Monday of each month.

Ward 1

In the 1st Ward, Christoph, 63, of Titan Way, says, "I just can't sit on my hands," so he wants to continue his career in public service after having flown submarine chaser flights in the U.S. Navy.

After 20 years in the military, he worked for the National Guard.

He's retired here with his wife so they can be close to grandchildren.

Asked what Lewisburg needs, Christoph replied, "The obvious answer is jobs. We need new businesses and they will probably come from outside the community and we, as a community, should embrace that."

Born in Mesa, Ariz., where his father found relief from asthma, Christoph enjoys woodworking and used to "tinker with cars," he said.

Henson issued a brief written statement about his candidacy.

Born and raised in Marshall County, he said, "I still reside in Lewisburg."

He's a graduate of Marshall County High School where his oldest daughter currently attends.

"I am married with two children," Henson said. "My wife and I are both employed through Lewis Bakeries.

"As your candidate for City Council, I would like to see our younger population become more involved with our city government, as well as more job opportunities in our county," Henson said.

He said he wants to meet everyone, hear their views and be their voice on the city council.

Thomas is the only candidate who's held elective office. He has been a member of the Kaufman, Texas, City Council.

He's the pastor of Belfast Presbyterian Church. He's a graduate of Columbia Central High School, Rhodes College in Memphis, Southern Methodist University and Vanderbilt Divinity School.

Noting there's "mistrust of government in our culture," Thomas, 58, said, "This is a great place to live and our job is to make sure that others feel the same way."

So, he's focusing on the economy, priorities the city can afford and providing stability after the city's had a long-term mayor and city manager.