JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A local state representative is calling on Tri-Cities voters to get out and vote in Tuesday’s county primary elections.

Rep. Rebecca Alexander (R-Jonesborough) said Tuesday’s elections mean far more for voters and their tax dollars than elections for federal and state congressional lawmakers.

“These are the people that determine your taxes. These are the people that determine how they’re going to spend your money in the school system. These are the people how their money’s going to be spent to do a project in the city,” Alexander said.

Across the region, nearly every county election commission set up voting precincts Monday, which will cover several key races.

Across six counties in News Channel 11’s Tennessee viewing area, contested races include five mayoral primaries and four for sheriff. Six counties will decide multiple county commissioners and four will choose school board members.

“Sometimes people think that if it’s a presidential election that’s the most imporant, but not always. It does matter who governs at the local level,” Alexander said.

Participation in early voting in two of Northeast Tennessee’s largest counties has been mixed, however.

In Sullivan County, Election Administrator Jason Booher reported 5,512 early voters this year, down 22.4% from 7,104 in 2018.

Washington County saw 6,616 voters during the early voting period, a slight increase of 2.5% from 6,453 in 2018.

Washington County Election Commissioner Mike Elder said the historical trend indicated that around half of the votes in this year’s primary may have already been cast.

“If the trend continues, we’re about halfway through with the numbers that we would see in Washington County,” Elder said. “We’re hoping for as large a turnout as we can get. There are some big races.”

Elder said Tuesday’s primary election will see the debut of the election commission’s new “poll pads” at precincts. Those are tablets that scan driver’s licenses during voter check-in to speed up the process.

Almost every county has significant county-wide positions up for grabs as well. Carter, Greene and Washington counties all have both mayor and sheriff primaries.

Elder said people living in cities can also vote for county elections. He said Tuesday’s races are important because they still impact city residents, and historically, the GOP primary determines the winner.

“The county mayor, the sheriff are both covering the city of Johnson City. Those are very important positions for many reasons,” Elder said. “The primary election in this area is pretty much the deciding election.”

Alexander said registered voters should try to inform themselves about candidates before heading to the polls.

“I hope that people will get on, research the candidates that are running, not just vote for the first one on the list, but vote for the one that is important to them,” Alexander said.

If you have not registered yet, you’ll have to wait until the next election in August.

Polls open around the region at 8 a.m. Tuesday, except in Greene County, where polls open at 9 a.m.

News Channel 11 is Your Local Election Headquarters. For in-depth coverage of the races and election news, head to the Your Local Election HQ page.