Deadline nears to get on November ballot for county races

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By Sharon Graves


The News-Democrat

Carroll County public offices and the school system have lost hundreds of years of experience recently due to a decision made by the state legislature. The most recent official to tender her resignation is Carroll County Clerk Marketta Brock, who officially leaves office July 31.

Brock is leaving mid-term due to a change in the way state retirement will be calculated. The new regulations will calculate pension benefits based on a state employees’ last five years’ salaries. Formerly, the benefits were calculated based on an employee’s last three years’ salaries. That means anyone retiring when the new system begins likely will receive smaller pension benefits than if they leave now.

The situation gets even stickier when it comes to determining who will replace Brock until the November election.

Because Brock is leaving office before Aug. 3, Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson is mandated by the state to appoint someone to fill out her term until the November election.

That’s what happened with the retirement of Darrell Lykins, who retired as 3rd District constable earlier this year. Tomlinson appointed Lykins’ wife, Rhetta, to fill out her husband’s unexpired term. Tomlinson also appointed David Wilhoite to fill the unexpired term of county coroner Jimmy Dunn, who died of cancer in May.

This leaves both the county Democratic and Republican Executive Committees with the opportunity to recommend candidates for all three offices for November’s ballot. If either party cannot find candidates for all of the offices, they are allowed to go outside their party to recommend candidates.

Therefore, there could, in theory, be two Democrats on the ballot for any or all of the three positions, should the Republican Party, which is a small minority in the county, not have its own candidates to recommend.

Both Tomlinson and Brock agree that the best thing is to let voters decide who will serve in the county offices.

Currently, two Democrats have expressed interest in the clerk’s position: Alice Marsh, who has worked in the clerk’s office for 22 years; and Mark Bates, currently magistrate for District 3 in Fiscal Court. Bates, coincidentally, also is a brother-in-law to Brock, who succeeded her father as clerk in 1994.

“Marketta has done a good job and she has served the public well,” Tomlinson said. “Whoever I appoint will be someone who has no interest in running for the position in the November election, so it won’t reflect on any candidate.”

Brock said anyone interested in filing as a candidate in the November election for any of the three county offices must contact her office by July 28. After that date, to be considered for either post, interested residents must contact either Mitchell Perkins, chairman of the county Democratic Executive Committee, or Cara Jimenez Luttrell, chairwoman of the county Republican Executive Committee, to be nominated.

“The best thing to do is to have people on the ballot so the citizens of Carroll County can choose who they want as their clerk, constable and coroner,” Tomlinson said.