KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Kingsport is less than two months away from its municipal election, which will include electing its next mayor. Election Day is May 18, with early voting beginning April 28.
The three candidates on the ballot include the city’s current mayor, Pat Shull, running for re-election, as well as challengers Brian Woliver and Michael Lathrop.
The Kiwanis Club of Kingsport held a forum on Friday that allowed candidates to share how they would lead the city.
Lathrop described himself as an entrepreneur and small businessman. He said more communication is needed between city leaders and citizens.
“Not only taking the voice of the people to the city manager and the BMA, but also being a conduit proactively. To put information out to the people. To let them know what we have in mind, let them know what we’re doing,” said Lathrop.
When discussing the city’s issue of homelessness, Lathrop said better leadership is needed to bring different organizations together.
“What I’d like to do is propose a small property tax break for anybody in the city limits who donates to an approved charity that helps homeless,” said Lathrop.
Mayor Pat Shull pointed to his leadership during the pandemic.
“I feel like truly that I was the right person, the right place, and the right time, to be the mayor. The essence of what I’ve stood for is sound government,” said Shull.
Shull said the city progressed despite the pandemic.
“We passed a budget that cut spending from what we’d originally planned. We paved more roads. We lowered the debt. We did not increase the rates for water or sewer,” he said.
Candidate Brian Woliver introduced himself as a veteran and participant in several wounded warrior organizations.
“I feel like the city has grown complacent over time as well. You know, in the Marine Corps they talk about ‘complacency kills,'” Woliver said. “I mean [Kingsport] is truly special. And I hope we don’t take any of this for granted.”
Woliver spoke on the need to support small businesses and attract entrepreneurs. He said Kingsport should devote COVID relief money to these causes.
“I think we need to back these local businesses owners hardcore. And we really need to promote entrepreneurship,” he said. “And I think the city needs to streamline a process where we can get these entrepreneurs going.”
The full hour-long forum can be watched here.