ERWIN, Tenn. – By the time the votes were counted, two of the three candidates vying to be the Republican nominee for property assessor in Tennessee's Unicoi County had died. One of them was the winner.
County election administrator Sarah Bailey called the deaths "horrible, coincidental tragedies."
Interim Assessor of Property Wayne Peterson died of cancer in February, while early voting was underway. Bailey said that on election day Tuesday, candidate Margaret Seward died, apparently of a massive heart attack. Bailey says Seward was in her early 50s and her death was unexpected. Had she lived, she would have been declared the winner of the race.
It is now up to local Republican Party leaders to decide who will be on the ballot in the general election, scheduled for August.