ELIZABETHTON – One of the hottest races in the May 3 Carter County Republican primary appears to be for the county administrator.
Longtime popular administrator Randal Lewis has announced his retirement and will not be running for another term.
The opening drew five contestants: Aaron Greer, Jeff Guinn, Travis Hill, Chad Lewis and Andrew Wetzel.
Greer and his wife, Julie, became the owners of Baker’s Drive Thru restaurant at 1022 Tenn. Highway 91 at Stoney Creek in October 2020, continuing the business that has operated there for over 30 years. Greer also operates light construction equipment, focusing on land clearing and preparation. For over eight years he worked for Business Information Systems of Piney Flats, which provides government software used statewide. He has represented the company in 95 county trustee offices across the state and in county government offices throughout the Southeast.
Greer graduated from Unaka High School in 2006 and has participated in golf, baseball, football, and basketball, and was a member of the state champion baseball team in 2004. He is a graduate of the East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science degree. Greer worked at Lowe’s and Peebles while in school and also started a lawn care business after graduating from high school. He worked at Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin while continuing his education.
Greer said he would continue his hard work ethic as a county administrator. He said he would use his extensive knowledge of government software and his contacts with administrators and elected officials statewide as the Carter County administrator. He said he would run the office in a professional and responsible manner, with the goal of achieving maximum efficiency with continuous improvement for the benefit of the citizens of Carter County.
Guinn also owns a small business. He owns Jeff’s Paint and Body Shop at 1106 Stateline Road, where he specializes in auto body and interior repair. He has been in business for 30 years.
He started his business in Hampton. He said he currently remains busy fixing a lot of cars, but always goes out and meets a lot of people during the election campaign. He graduated from Hampton High School.
Guinn said his father was a bricklayer and he learned at a young age that he would rather not follow his father’s profession. That’s why he started the paint and body shop.
Guinn said he learned the lessons of customer appreciation and customer service by running a business for 30 years and plans to pursue that in the trustee’s office. He said he hopes to continue running the office in the same way he is now run. “All of the staff who work in the office now will have a job there if I’m an administrator,” Guinn said. “The only face that will change will be the addition of mine.”
Hill is currently entering his fourth year as a member of the Carter County Commission, representing the 6th District. He served one year as chairman of the commission and is currently vice chairman. He has also served on several committees including financial management, appointments, budget, agriculture, library, audit, planning and beer council.
Hill has been married to Stacie McCall Hill for 14 years. He graduated from Elizabethton High School with honors and served as a fire engineer for the city for 12 years. He graduated magna cum laude from East Tennessee State University in just 3.5 years with two bachelor’s degrees in business administration. One was in accounting and the other in management.
After graduating, Hill accepted a job with Elizabethton, this time as an accountant in the finance department. He continued his studies in his field and was recognized as a chartered municipal finance officer and chartered accountant in public services.
Hill said his goals as an administrator would be to streamline services, maintain the excellent customer service the office is known for, and start curbside service for people with or unable to enter the office.
Hill said he would also work to increase the amount of money the county provides for the property tax relief program for low-income senior homeowners, disabled homeowners and disabled veterans.
Lewis is the owner of A + Land-scaping. For the past eight years his company has worked as a contractor on commercial and residential properties in Carter, Washington and Sullivan counties and he is a contractor on properties in Elizabethton. His company has previously provided landscaping services in Virginia as well as Tennessee. Lewis holds an associate’s degree in production horticulture from Walters State Community College. Lewis graduated with Honors from Unaka High School in 2004. He was chosen as Mr. Unaka and received the Joe E. Taylor Citizenship Award.
Lewis comes naturally through his interest in the office of the trustee. He is the son of current Carter County Administrator Randal Lewis. He grew up watching his father run the office. He was 8 years old when his father was first sworn in. If elected to succeed him, Lewis said he would “continue to make the process as easy as possible for citizens”.
One way he would like to make easier would be to have county taxes transferred directly from the taxpayer’s bank.
“I know citizens can pay their taxes online now, but that would add another convenience,” Lewis said.
Lewis said he was sure his father would help him if he was elected. “I’m sure he would be happy to do that, but I know my dad would help others too if they were elected. My dad is a great man and I’m sure he would be happy to help them.
Wetzel is a business owner and a member of the Eliza-bethton Fire Department.
He retired after a 27-and-a-half-year career in the United States Marine Corps Reserves that included two periods of active service in Iraq. Wetzel and his wife, Jenny, have three grown sons who have all followed their dad into the Marines. He is also the commanding officer of the Elizabethton Post 2166 Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Wetzel graduated from Elizabethton High School in 1989, where he played three sports: football, basketball and baseball. He graduated from ETSU with a Bachelor of Science in Education. He originally wanted to be a teacher, but changed his mind. He said he still gained valuable knowledge in his future careers through his studies.
In 1996, Wetzel purchased the Stateline Drive-in Theater. He modernized the theater by installing a state-of-the-art digital projector in 2014.
Wetzel retired from the Marines as Master Sgt in 2019. That same year, he was elected to the Elizabethton High School Sports Hall of Fame.
He is now the Battalion Commander in the Elizabethton Fire Department.
He said, “I love my job. I like to protect the city. I feel like I can give more back to the community, but I have reached the highest level possible in the fire department right now. “
He said he will run the office of the trustee with competence and professionalism.
“I have been in the public service all of my life and feel like I’ve learned a lot about local government from my profession with firefighters and feel like I’ve learned about the federal government from my career in the Marine Corps, ”he said.