Coroner candidate challenged, ballot access approved

A challenge to the candidacy of LaShone Price, running for Blount County coroner, was handled last week by the Republican Party executive committee. The challenge was made by John Mark Vaughn, the incumbent coroner who is running for re-election.

Following the hearing, party chairman Tim Kent announced that the challenge to Price’s candidacy had not succeeded. “Ballot access was approved,” he said, adding that no further details would be released.

The committee met in executive session Wednesday afternoon to hear statements from the opposing candidates. Following the presentations, members of the committee asked questions then had the candidates retire to allow the committee to vote on the matter.

“It was a historic moment in Blount County politics,” Price said when asked for comment on the outcome. He said he had been told it was the first time anyone’s candidacy had been challenged in a Blount County election.

“I’m just proud to still be in the race,” he said. “I’m proud of their decision. I look forward to getting everyone’s vote and to being the next coroner.”

Price said the basis for the challenge was his candidacy as a Democrat in a previous elec- tion. He said that was a one-time occurrence that he was able to explain to the committee’s satisfaction. “I’ve voted Republican my whole life,” he added.

Vaughn said his challenge was based on two issues: “party loyalty regarding crossover candidates” and the matter of having a coroner who is also a funeral home director. “There’s no evidence of his involvement with the Republican Party until he qualified to run for office,” he said.

He added he didn’t think that having a coroner associated with a funeral home is consistent with the professionalism and skills the job requires. “There’s no similarity between the jobs,” he said. “It makes no more sense than having the county probate judge’s office in Walmart.”