Unicoi County

Republican rivals face off to be Unicoi County mayoral candidate

UNICOI COUNTY, Tenn. - The race for mayor in the Unicoi County Republican primary has been heated from the beginning.

Mayor Greg Lynch and his opponent Johnny Day got into an argument in November 2013 and had to be separated by sheriff's deputies and Erwin police.

Lynch and Day told us they've  moved on from that disagreement and have changed their focus back to the issues facing the county.

They will face off again, at the polls, on May 6.

Lynch was going from door-to-door on Wednesday night, rallying last minute support for the chance to become mayor for a third term. He told us his campaign is highlighting his eight years as mayor.

"I have a lot of contacts around the state and that's one of the reasons why I feel having someone experienced still in there is a plus for Unicoi County," said Lynch.

He told us those contacts will help him solve unemployment, which he calls county's biggest problem.

"We've been working to get training into these industries, that need training for their jobs," he said.

Lynch told us the two biggest industries in the county are nuclear fuels and the tire plant.

His opponent, retired businessman Johnny Day, told us he also has a plan for workforce training.

"We've got a resource here with these young folks that we could teach how to do plumbing, electrical, carpentry all kinds of auto mechanics," he said. "Twenty-two percent of our people are 65 and over. We have people like that whose homes are falling apart."

Day said the young workers could fix those homes and gain hands-on skills to hopefully start their own businesses.

He told us he plans to focus on bringing new companies to the county.

"To recruit and find businesses from the outside, we haven't been aggressive here," Day said.

It's a strategy Day said he'll also use to expand the tourism industry.

Incumbent Lynch told us he's already started working on that through cooperation with the U.S. Forestry Service. He said it's something he'd continue if re-elected.

We found out that Day has spent about $4,500 on his campaign. He told us he's only used personal funds. Lynch said he's only spent about $1,700 on his own campaign. Lynch said  less than half of that amount came from contributions.

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