Bristol, Tennessee voters elect change

Two-thirds of incumbents lose seats

POSTED: 6:08 PM May 22 2013   UPDATED: 9:30 PM May 22 2013
BRISTOL, Tenn. -

After months of campaigning, and a heavy turnout at the polls; the results are in.

This year's Bristol, Tennessee city election saw its share of upsets, with two-of-the-three incumbents running for city council losing their seats. Click here to view the full results.

For a simple city election, the votes came in volumes.

We found out, Bristol, Tennessee polls saw an eight percent increase in turnout over the last municipal election, including a 20 percent increase in early voting. "I think in Bristol this substantial increase in turnout was attributed to the race, the candidates, the campaign," said Sullivan County Election Administrator Jason Booher.

The results call for change. Two-of-the-three incumbents, Mayor Joel Staton and Councilman David Shumaker, were unseated by newcomers Chad Keen and Lea Powers.

The winners told News 5 the voice of voters is asking for reform to Bristol's business climate. "I think Bristol has so many great resources that have so far gone untapped. I think the first thing we're going to need to do is find a very forward thinking business-friendly city manager," said Lea Powers.

Chad Keen said, "We need to make sure that we're paying attention to our existing businesses that are already here. We need to find ways we can help them to expand and to hire."

Current councilmember Michelle Dolan told us this is a continuation of a turnover that started two years ago when she and fellow councilmember, and vice-mayor, Ben Zandi also unseated incumbents.

Dolan told us she's excited for fresh faces and ideas. "I think that just opens the road to make a lot of changes for progress," said Dolan.

The one incumbent to keep her seat, Margaret Feierabend, barley held onto it with a victory margin of just 11 votes. But just like her new counterparts, she wants to make Bristol the best it can be. "If there's some things we can do differently that work, then for sure we want to try some of those," said Feierabend.

Joel Staton and David Shumaker were unavailable for interviews Wednesday, but we did talk to them over the phone.

Shumaker told us he was surprised, and he thought the results would be closer, but he feels like Bristol wanted something new.

Staton said he wishes the new council members the best, and he hopes they follow through with some of the plans already put in place.