Election day is three weeks away, but residents of the Town of Oneida began heading to the polls on Monday, casting early votes in the upcoming municipal election.
The entirety of the town’s elected leadership is up for election, including mayor and all four members of the board of aldermen.
In the mayoral race, long-time incumbent Jack E. Lay is being opposed by recently-retired insurance agent Denny Smith.
Lay, first elected in 1995, is the longest tenured mayor in Oneida’s history. He is seeking a seventh term.
Smith, who retired from Farm Bureau earlier this year, is not a political newcomer; he is a past member of the Oneida Special School District Board of Education.
All four incumbent aldermen — two of them elected; two of them appointed — are seeking re-election, with just two challengers in the race. That means at least 50 percent of the town’s aldermen will retain their seats in city government.
Among the incumbents are pharmacist Mark Byrd and Linda Lay, who is retired from Plateau Electric Cooperative. Also among the incumbents are attorney Lori Phillips-Jones and Oneida Special School District’s Allison Mays.
Phillips-Jones, a former member of the OSSD board of education and a former district attorney general who was appointed to that post by then-Governor Bill Haslam, was appointed to the board of aldermen to replace Jeff Tibbals when Tibbals resigned from the board in 2018 after being elected Scott County mayor.
Mays, who worked at Highland Communications before making the move to the OSSD Central Office, is a newcomer to politics. She was appointed to the post in 2015, after her husband — Bruce Mays — won election but was later deemed ineligible to hold office due to being an employee of the town’s street department.
Opposing the incumbent aldermen in the election are Tobey Mays and Billy Hammock.
Mays is a political newcomer, a former part-owner of his family’s businesses — Tobe’s Motel and the Oneida John Deere dealership. He is a long-time employee of Highland Telephone Cooperative.
Hammock is also a political newcomer. A 2016 graduate of Scott High School, he is a deputy at the Scott County Sheriff’s Office.
Early voting concludes October 28. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 2.