Unicoi candidate dies on election day, wins voting

Margaret Shelton Seward, a Republican candidate for property assessor in Unicoi County, died of a heart attack on election day, reports the Johnson City Press, but still collected more votes than two other candidates on the primary ballot.

One of the other candidates, Interim Property Assessor Wayne Peterson, died on Feb. 16, halfway through the county’s record-setting early voting period.

Seward, a longtime county employee who was employed by the County Clerk’s office at the time of her death and who previously worked in the assessor’s office, died just after midnight Tuesday at Unicoi County Memorial Hospital after suffering heart failure at her home.

Unicoi County Administrator of Elections Sarah Bailey told the Johnson City Press after Peterson’s death that state law requires the county’s Republican party to select a candidate for the general election in the event the top vote-getter dies during the election. Bailey confirmed on Tuesday those rules will apply with Seward’s death and election victory on Tuesday.

Seward (had)… a 48 to 34 percent advantage over McInturff in Tuesday night’s final tally, with Seward earning 1,570 of the vote compared to 1,116 votes for McInturff and 560 votes for Peterson.

Unicoi County Republican Party Chairman Jim Buchanan said the party will meet sometime after the Election Commission certifies the results on March 17 to first determine how to the make selection.

Buchanan said he anticipated the party will entertain and discuss nominations and take a vote in the same meeting.