Phil Ballard is considering a race for register of deeds in the May 1, 2018, Republican primary. If he runs, the two-term property assessor would face Nick McBride, currently the chief deputy in the office. Register of Deeds Sherry Witt is term-limited and cannot seek re-election.
Ballard was elected to Knox County Commission from East Knox County in 2006 and was elected property assessor in 2008 and 2012. Term-limited, he was replaced by former assessor John Whitehead in 2016. He has been working as a commercial real estate agent, now affiliated with Powell Auction.
McBride started working part-time in the register of deeds office almost 30 years ago. He has worked in most departments and was appointed chief deputy in 2007. He announced his candidacy on June 5 and quickly gained Witt’s endorsement.
The register of deeds office keeps legal documents pertaining to real property. Records include: warranty deeds, deeds of trust, releases, powers of attorney and liens. The office records 80,000 to 100,000 documents each year and manages between $12 million and $18 million in annual revenue.
In an interview Wednesday, Ballard, 63, said he picked up a form for the appointment of a campaign treasurer. He expects to decide whether to run by Thanksgiving.
Ballard had a 30-year career in the insurance industry, handling claims and working as a litigation specialist, before winning election as property assessor.
He said the assessor’s office has a higher budget than the register’s and he “will bring business experience outside the Courthouse.”
As chief deputy, McBride oversees the office’s day-to-day operations, helps index property records, works with title companies and title attorneys, and follows legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly. He helps Witt manage more than 20 employees.
“My top priorities are to operate the office in a cost-effective manner and provide a professional and well-trained staff to respectfully serve the citizens,” McBride said. “I will also continue to explore new technology to make the office more efficient and better serve the community.”
McBride grew up in the Cedar Bluff area and now lives in Hardin Valley with his family. He is a former treasurer of the Knox County Republican Party and is the immediate past president of the Tennessee Elks Association.