36 Fulton County residents have filed for elective offices in the May 22 Primary Election.
The filing period began at noon on Feb. 23 and continued until noon March 1.
Two candidates filed on the last day, Guy Smith for a Justice of the Peace seat and Boyd Dailey for Constable.
15-candidates, 14 of them incumbents, will gain office automatically, because no one filed to run against them. Those candidates are: County Judge Charles Willett, Sheriff Kenneth "Buck" Foley, County and Circuit Clerk Vickie Bishop, District Judge Jim Short, Assessor Brad Schaufler, Coroner Steve Barker, District 8 Justice of the Peace Jack Haney and District 9 Justice of the Peace Jimmy Marler.
Deputy Tax Collector Michalle Watkins, who filed for Tax Collector, does not have an opponent. She will fill the seat held by Calvin "Buster" Smith, who did not seek re-election.
In addition, all Salem City Council Aldermen filed for re-election and do not have opponents: Betty Teague, Bill Newton, Richard Frazier, and Ted York; and no one filed to challenge City Attorney Dwayne Plumlee.
Treasurer Donna Hall is not seeking re-election, and two Democrats, Seth Jones of Viola and Jamie Turnbough of Mammoth Spring, filed for the office. Republican Kristina Henkels of Cherokee Village also filed for the office.
Candidates filed for seven of nine Justice of the Peace seats.
In District 3, where J-P Jim Bicker is not seeking re-election, Ray Matthew of Viola and Burton Yarnell of Salem will face off in the Democratic primary. Robert Windsor of Salem filed as a Republican.
In District 5, where J-P Michael Roork is not seeking re-election, Johnny Moody of Salem and Guy Smith of Salem have filed to run as Democrats.
|In District One, incumbent Cris Newberry of Viola is running as a Democrat and George Wiggam of Elizabeth filed as a Republican.|
In Distict Two, Lynn Guffey of Gepp is running for re-election as an Independent. An opponent, Sherrie Keylon of Mammoth Spring, filed as a Democrat.
In District Four, incumbent Michael Barnett of Salem is running for re-election as a Democrat. Gary Phillips of Salem has filed as a Republican.
In District Six, incumbent Marjorie Rogers of Cherokee Village has filed for re-election as a Republican. Larry Rhynes of Ash Flat has filed as an Independent.
In Distict Seven, incumbent David Cunningham of Camp has filed for re-election as a Democrat. Mark Guffey of Salem has filed as an Independent.
County Clerk Bishop says more people filed for offices than any election in recent memory.
Three candidates have filed for the unpaid office of Constable. David Rothgeb and Lynn "Arles" Linderman, both of Mammoth Spring, have filed as Democrats. Boyd Dailey of Viola has filed as an Independent.
Burton Yarnell and Guy Smith, who filed for J-P seats, are currently members of the Salem School Board. According to Yarnell, if elected as J-Ps, he and Smith could serve on both the school board and Quorum Court. A school board attorney told Yarnell there would not be a conflict, because the school board is an independent body, and not a county government agency.
"I don't have any axe to grind," said Guy Smith, who created a race in District Two by filing on the morning of the deadline. "I just feel that, if only one person runs (for an office), people don't really have a choice."
Johnny Moody, who learned Smith had added his name to the seat he is seeking, said, "I guess I'll have to print some cards and start campaigning."
County Judge Willett, who does not have an opponent, said the number of filings and contested races shows people are interested in their government.
"I think it's great (so many have filed)," Willett said. "I've always said, 'If you have a gripe, you should get involved.'"
As campaign signs go up and candidates begin knocking on doors and asking for votes, there is still plenty of time for people to register to vote at the county clerk's office.
The deadline to register to vote for the May 22 primary is Monday, April 23.
On March 12, Fulton County Election Commissioners will meet for a drawing, to determine how the names of candidates in contested races will appear on the primary ballot.
The ballot drawing will take place on March 12 at 9 a.m. at the Clerk's office at the courthouse.