Apr. 12—The Gladeville Community Center plays hosts to professional wrestling nearly every weekend, but on Saturday a different kind of contestant stepped into the ring.
The Gladeville Community Center doesn’t usually host political rallies this early in the year. According to its director, Mabel Beazley, events like the one held over the weekend usually take place in the summer.
However, with the advent of a primary election for many local, the organizers, led by Anna Fay Leeman, felt like it needed to take place offices before the early voting period began.
Early voting kicks off on Wednesday.
Beazley indicated that the event has been going on for years and that each installment carries an element of surprise.
“We never know what the candidates are going to bring,” Beazley said.
On Saturday, a parade of candidates and their supporting convoys set sail from Wilson Central High School and made their way to the Gladeville Community Center. Other candidates were already there, greeting attendees at the door with fliers, business cards and campaign promises.
Beazley mentioned that although each year can be a little different, one thing typically remains constant.
“They plan to let the candidates, or anyone who wants to speak for that matter, have a few minutes,” Beazley said. “It’s good for people to see the candidates. We have a lot of new people running this time. We have a lot of incumbents too.”
Beazley added that it can help familiarize voters with the Gladeville Community Center, which becomes a polling precinct during election cycles. Beazley serves as a registrar at the center during election periods.
Those attending had the chance to meet new candidates as well as cheer on their own.
“The goal is to have a good ol’-fashioned political rally in the Glade,” Leeman said “Bring your entourage and your people following you. The people in the community and all over the county are welcome to come to this. to anybody, all offices, state level, everything.”
Candidates from almost every race were there. Wilson County Schools board members Bill Robinson and Kimberly McGee argued their case for reelection. Newcomer Dalton Teel, who is challenging McGee, also addressed the crowd.
Wilson County Circuit Court Clerk Debbie Moss and her opponent, Kenneth Hackett, both presented their case for election. County mayoral candidates, incumbent Randall Hutto and challenger Phillip Warren, both spoke.
Two women seeking to become United States Congressman were there. Geni Batchelor and Natisha Brooks both laid out why they should represent the newly-drawn Tennessee 5th District.
Some candidates are running unopposed but still addressed the crowds and welcomed questions.
Everyone who was there got to hear the candidates’ cases and bid on a dessert.
“We always do a bake sale,” Leeman said. “We used to do cakes only, but I said let’s do all desserts, so we have a variety of homemade desserts. They will be auctioned off. Those funds go to the community center. We also have a concession stand, and the proceeds from the stand will also go toward the community center, for maintenance of whatever needs to be done.”
Leeman hasn’t always been the lead organizer, but she maintains that she has been involved going back for a long time.
“This is the first time I have organized it, but I have been to a lot all over the county, all my life,” Leeman said. “They used to have them on the ball field years ago, and you couldn’t walk through the people.”
While the audience on Saturday may not have been shoulder to shoulder as it was in yesteryear, the auction still raised $11,480. All of those funds will go toward future operations at the Gladeville Community Center.