The two Republicans will face off in the May primary

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Two long-time local leaders on Wednesday set up the beginning stages in a fight for the county's top tax collector seat.

Knox County Commissioner Ed Shouse announced his intentions to seek the Trustee seat, and interim Trustee Craig Leuthold turned in his paperwork to appoint a campaign treasurer.

"The main role of Trustee is collecting and investing the county's tax dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars a year, so having someone with a business and financial background, like myself, makes sense," said Shouse, an at-large commissioner, and former Knoxville City Council member.

Shouse, who serves on the county's audit committee, pension board and investment committee, spent 20 years in the banking industry followed by 17 years in the shortline railroad industry.

He will face Leuthold in the May republican Primary. The general election is set for August.

Leuthold is a former a two-term commissioner, who spent 16 years in the Trustee's Office and more than two years in the Property Assessor's Office.

"I've got 19 years experience in the property tax profession and I think that when people call in and have concerns they want someone with knowledge and experience, and I can help with questions and concerns," he said. "I think that's invaluable."

The Knox County Commission in late July appointed Leuthold to fill out the remainder former Trustee John Duncan III's term, which ends Aug. 31. Duncan resigned and pleaded guilty to official misconduct in early July.

Leuthold and Shouse were among 26 applicants who applied for the job. But Shouse pulled out, saying he didn't want the community to feel that he got the job because he was on the commission.

The board then selected Leuthold.

The Trustee is the county's top tax collection. The position pays about $113,000 annually and is responsible for 30 to 45 employees depending on tax season.

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