CLEVELAND, Tenn. — In two months, voters will decide the last contested seat on the Bradley County Commission.
Democrat Tammy Davis faces Republican Kevin Raper for District 7, Seat A, in the Aug. 2 county general election. Raper defeated Joshua Rogers in the May 1 Republican primary; Davis ran unopposed on the Democratic ballot.
Both candidates have voiced concerns with budgeting for the county's infrastructural priorities.
"Population growth is not necessarily a good thing," Raper has said. "Sometimes it's a bad thing.
If the infrastructure is up to par with the population growth, then it's absolutely a good thing."
Spending within the county's means while serving a growing population is the county's greatest challenge, he said.
The budget should serve diverse needs, Davis said, pointing out how the current commission lineup only includes one woman among its 14 members.
"Because there is no diversity [on the commission], I think sometimes people are afraid to speak up," she said. "We have to be willing to do that."
Mark Hall, who currently holds the seat, changed re-election plans for the North Cleveland district in midstream to pursue the Tennessee House District 24 seat.
With Davis being the only Democrat to seek election to the Bradley County Commission, the Republican primary answered the question of who would hold the other 13 commission seats come September. Only six seats generated contests, leaving eight incumbents to run unopposed for the entire election cycle.
Ten members of the Bradley County Commission will return to their seats this fall, joined by four new faces who filled vacancies or toppled re-election bids.
Erica Davis and Tim Mason unseated Robert Rominger and Dan Rawls for their District 6 seats, respectively.
Dennis Epperson defeated Rick Bise in the race to fill the District 1 seat left open by Terry Caywood, who did not seek re-election.
If Davis takes the open District 7 seat, she will be the first Democrat to serve on the Bradley County Commission since 2014, when Jeff Morelock lost his District 3 re-election bid.
She would boost the number of women serving on the commission to three. Commissioner Charlotte Peak, who holds a District 4 seat, was the only woman on the panel after the 2014 election.
A Davis victory would also double the number of real estate professionals serving on the commission. Commissioner Thomas Crye currently holds that singular distinction.
If Raper takes the seat, he will make the third Bradley County Schools employee to serve on the new commission, joining Erica Davis and Johnny Mull.
Contact Paul Leach at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @pleach_3.