JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – It’s not just the race for the White House and Congress that have Democrats locked in a battle with Republicans. Three seats are up for grabs on the Johnson City Commission on November 3rd.
State law requires the candidates to run as independents but political parties are working to support their candidates of choice.
Thursday night, the Washington County Young Republicans hosted a buffet dinner and commission candidate event at the Holiday Inn in Johnson City and the county’s Democratic Party held a candidate forum on Zoom.
All eight candidates are required by Tennessee code 2-13-208 to run as independent candidates.
“It isn’t not going on on the other side. This is just our first time stepping up and matching that,” said Party Chair Kate Craig. “These are the four that opted in to be democrat identified and have the help and support of the Washington County Democratic Party.”
Kyle Beagle, Jeff Clark, Debbie Harley McClaskey and Alona Norwood have the support of the Washington Co. Democratic Party.
“These are candidates that we are financially helping- turning out volunteers for. These are our four democratic candidates,” Craig said.
Turney Williams and Todd Fowler have the support of the Washington Co. Young Republicans.
“We have two candidates here that identify as ‘conservative,’ said Washington Co. Young Republicans Chair Mason Mosier. “We really wanted to spotlight what the young republicans do to go out and help these candidates who we believe will make the biggest impact on the city commission and carry on our conservative republican values.”
Not invited: Johnson City Vice Mayor Joe Wise or Aaron Murphy, a political newcomer who runs Good Samaritan Ministries.
Vice Mayor Wise told News Channel 11:
“Traditionally, the Johnson City Commission has been a non-partisan body that has looked after the lives and wellbeing of all our citizens. For me the city commission has always been the ultimate opportunity for public service. It has been a rare exception to the tribal nature of our current hyper political climate. I do not believe city hall would be improved by behaving like Washington, DC. “Joe Wise, Johnson City Vice Mayor and candidate
“Joe is somebody that we wish we would have invited tonight,” Mosier said. “Turney and Todd, we had kind of discussed at some earlier meetings that they were going to speak tonight.”
The candidates are aware of the new presence of partisan politics in the city.
“I’m not sure why this year it’s been moved more toward the partisan type meetings,” said candidate and current commissioner Todd Fowler.
Washington County’s Republican Party Chair and candidate Turney Williams said: “In general…it’s just a pretty hyper-partisan period. There’s a lot of attention to this presidential election and so it’s pretty hard to stay in the background.”
But, not all see it as bad.
“When have Democrats had four choices on the ballot? How exciting is that?” said candidate Debbie Harley-McClaskey.
Both party chairs say they plan on having more events to support their favorite candidates leading up to election day.