Editor’s Note: Early voting starts in Hamblen County Wednesday and lasts until Feb. 25 for the March 3 Presidential Primary.

In the Republican Primary, Hamblen County Trustee Scotty Long faces a challenged form Jason Darnell. Long was appointed last fall after the seat became open when former Trustee John Baskette resigned amid criminal investigations.

Hamblen County Trustee Scotty Long points to the experience he brings to the as he faces challenger Jason Darnell in the March 3 Republican primary election.

Long said he wants to continue to return honor and dignity to an office that was the source of controversy as the previous trustee was accused of multiple ethical and legal breaches.

“I want to restore confidence back into the office of trustee, honesty and integrity,” he said. “The taxpayers deserve to rely on the fact that the trustee will handle the funds with the utmost care and follow all procedures and protocols… This is an office of trust.”

Long has been in the office for almost five months.

In that time, he has addressed multiple issues in the office, including a Former properly investing $14.33 million in taxpayers’ dollars, that had been under invested by his predecessor.

Approximately $9.33 million of that money was in bank accounts that drew zero interest. The remaining $5 million was drawing between .25% and .74% interest.

According to state audits, that under investment cost the county as much as $255,000.

Once taking office, Long began the process of properly investing the money. Now, he says, the formerly idle money is earning appropriate interest in the Local Government Investment Pool.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Long said. “I just couldn’t believe that we had that large of an amount of money earning no interest at all in those bank accounts.”

Long said he closed eight low-performing or zero-performing bank accounts at four financial institutions, and the money was placed in market-value, interest-bearing accounts, according to the state auditors

Long first came into county government two years ago when he was elected District 14 County Commissioner. He decided to throw his name into the hat for trustee and was appointed trustee by the commission in October.

Long has been married to his wife, Patty, for 28 years and has a 24-year-old daughter, Erika.

He was born and raised in Hamblen County and graduated Morristown-Hamblen High School East in 1975. He then attended Walters State Community College.

Long later went into business and established a chain of 14 TCBY stores from Nashville to the Tri-Cities.

He now owns two TCBY stores and two UPS stores in Morristown and Greeneville.

Long has been busy since being appointed as trustee. In the past several months, he has consolidated several accounts to make sure that all accounts are earning interest. He said he has made sure he has learned all roles of the trustee’s office and is making sure employees are cross-trained.

He said there is more efficiencies that can be conducted to improve efficiency and make sure the taxpayers save money. That is his goal if reelected.

“The taxpayers deserve an office that conducts itself in a professional manner,” he said.