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Results from the Statewide County Elections
August 12, 2022
Last Thursday, Tennesseans showed up at the polls to vote in primary elections for state and federal offices, but also to vote in county general elections. While Metro Nashville/Davidson County will elect its mayor and council next year, county mayors and county commissioners were on the ballot in the other 94 counties, and many counties voted in elections for highway officials as well.
From the initial reports, it appears there will be 37 new county mayors taking office on September 1st across the state, which represents a nearly 40% turnover rate. In 18 of those counties, the incumbent decided not to run again. Three incumbent mayors lost their primary election in May, and 16 were defeated by a challenger in the August general election.
County highway officials will have at least 18 new faces in their ranks on September 1. With nine retirements announced early in the spring, open seats make up half of that number. Because highway officials are on a staggered schedule, around half of the 96 are up for election or appointment every two years. Some 36 incumbents were re-elected to their positions, and four incumbents lost (two in their primaries and another two in the general election). All four who had previously been appointed to fill unexpired terms were elected to their own terms.
While the county commission elections are more complicated for TCSA to track, we do know that just under 900 incumbent commissioners were reelected and a little more than 650 new commissioners will take office in September. This is approximately 42% turnover, which is slightly higher than usual but comparable to the turnover among mayors. We have not yet compiled figures on how many of these changes were the result of retirements compared to election defeats.
All newly elected officials are encouraged to attend the County Officials Orientation Program later this month hosted by the University of Tennessee, County Technical Assistance Service. For TCSA officials, those sessions are on August 22nd and 23rd. This training program provides county officials, both newly elected and re-elected, with valuable information to help prepare them to assume office on September 1. Topics include county offices and authority, oaths and bonds, personnel issues, ethics, conflicts of interest, open meetings, and records.