Graham wins GOP primary for county mayor

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Chad Graham won Tuesday’s Republican primary for Bedford County mayor, defeating Chuck Heflin by a margin of 1,419 to 845 and carrying all 11 precincts.

Graham, a former director of Bedford County Emergency Medical Services, will be the GOP nominee and will face former Duck River Electric Membership Corp. executive Randy Carroll, incumbent County Mayor Eugene Ray and radio station owner Rusty Reed, all of whom are running as independents, in the August general election.

All vote totals are unofficial until certified by the Election Commission.

Looking ahead

“Thank you to all the folks who voted for me and our vision for a Better Bedford,” said Graham late Tuesday night. “We now move onto the General Election on August 2. We celebrate victory tonight but tomorrow we will be back working hard to earn your vote to be the next Mayor of Bedford County.”

The race between Graham and Heflin, a county commissioner, was the only contested race in either party’s primary on Tuesday. Turnout was quite low. Only 2,631 votes were cast, a mere 11.57 percent of the county’s 22,735 registered voters. The vote was split about evenly between the early voting period and Election Day.

Complimentary votes

Complimentary votes were cast for several uncontested candidates in the Republican primary and one uncontested candidate in the Democratic primary.

Rick Gann will be the Republican nominee for sheriff, drawing 1,128 votes. He will face incumbent Sheriff Austin Swing, who is running as an independent, in August.

Incumbent Circuit Court Clerk Michelle Murray drew 1,778 votes in the Republican primary. She has no opposition and will be unopposed on the August ballot.

Colleen McGee Embry will be the Republican nominee for register of deeds after drawing 1,524 complimentary votes in the GOP primary, while incumbent Register of Deeds Johnny Reed will be the Democratic nominee, drawing 318 votes in a Democratic primary for which he was the only candidate running for any office. Embry and Reed will face each other in the August election.


Several county commission candidates were unopposed in the Republican primary. There are two seats per commission district. Brent Smith drew 186 votes in his race for a District 1 seat, Gregory G. Vick drew 181 votes for a District 2 seat, Tim Estes drew 99 votes and incumbent Julie Wells Sanders drew 131 votes running for District 7 seats. Since there are two seats per district, both Estes and Sanders will move forward as Republican nominees.

The Republican nominees for county commission seats will all face independent challengers in August; county commission races used to be non-partisan, and the vast majority of candidates still run as independents, including 13 incumbents out of the current 18 commissioners.

The general election, which will also be the primary election for state and federal offices, will be held on Thursday, Aug. 2.