Three Republican incumbents, Mike Ford, Mark Larkey and Roger Nave, will face Bryan Davenport in the May 6 Republican Primary. The top three vote-getters will join Patrick Littleton, the only independent in the field, on the Aug. 7 county general election ballot.
District 7 includes Gray and a large portion of unincorporated area to the west of Johnson City. It contains 14,246 inhabitants.
• Mike “Boots” Ford, 61, was born and raised in the Pleasant Valley community in Sulphur Springs. He is one of 13 children, and graduated from Sulphur Springs High School in 1971.
He maintains a family farm in Pleasant Valley and has been employed by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office as its food service administrator at the Washington County Detention Center for the past 19 years. He also serves as a reserve deputy.
Ford owned his own restaurant and has worked in food service for 41 years. He attends New Hope Church of the Brethren in Jonesborough, has served on the Board of Directors and chairman for the Foundation for the John M. Reed Home in Limestone. He is a member of the Tennessee Constables Association and serves on its board of directors for its East Tennessee division. He also serves on the advisory board for the Jonesborough Senior Citizens Center.
“I’ve worked closely with my fellow commissioners, Mark Larkey and Roger Nave, and the residents of Gray in efforts to prevent forced annexation,” he said. “I support providing our children with a sound education, since they are our future leaders, and we must invest wisely.
“I have always been active in my community and have enjoyed giving back in any way I can. I have a common-sense approach to government, and I think we need to be good stewards of our taxpayer’s monies and living within our means. It has been an honor and privilege to serve my constituents in the 7th district for the past three years, and I hope they will give me the opportunity to serve four more years.”
Ford is married and has one son, one daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.
During his tenure with the commission, he has served on the Legal Services, Public Works, Safety and Heritage committees.
Ford was appointed in 2011 to fulfill the term of Richard Shadden. He was elected in the 2012 to serve the remainder of Shadden’s term.
• Larkey, 47, is a lifelong Gray resident. He graduated from Daniel Boone High School and then went to East Tennessee State University on a basketball scholarship, where he received a bachelor’s degree in education and later a master’s degree in administration and supervision.
Larkey was a teacher, athletic director and assistant principal at Daniel Boone High School for 11 years before leaving to enter private business. He currently is a partner in the Gray-based Amusement Entertainment Group, which owns and operates Family Entertainment Centers in tourist areas. He also is a local home builder.
Larkey is a member of Buffalo Ridge Baptist Church in Gray.
“I’m extremely proud of Washington County, and my main objective is to continue improving on the wonderful quality of life we enjoy by remaining forward-looking,” he said. “My other objectives include making wise decisions concerning education, economic development and infrastructure, which are essential for job creation and retention. I also will continue to be respectful of and honor our retirees and seniors, whom have paved the way for many of the successes we are enjoying today.
“My approach will continue to be positive and respectful, but a strong voice as a commissioner for the residents of Gray and Sulphur Springs. I will continue working hard to provide all citizens of Washington County the best services possible at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer.”
Larkey is married and has two children.
He was first elected to the County Commission in 2006 and is completing his second term. During his tenure, he has served on the Planning Commission; the Education, Public Works, Budget and Legal Services committees; the former economic development board and its executive committee.
• Nave, 67, was born in Elizabethton. He attended Unaka High School and has lived in Washington County the past 42 years.
He worked for the Kingsport Press from 1963-1969, leaving that job to become a Tennessee State Trooper. He spent 28 years as a sergeant and lieutenant. He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army.
Nave now works for a local power company. He has served on the Gray Community Chest and was president of the Daniel Boone Little League for 12 years. He currently is the West Gray Republican precinct chairman and attends Crossroads Christian Church.
“I have tried to live up to the promises I made,” he said. “We have held the line on expenses, and taxes are the same as they were four years ago. There’s not many places where that has happened. I have stood up for families and neighborhoods. I have supported school resource officers and our education department, along with the EMS station in Sulphur Springs.
“I have stood firm against methadone clinics and the sale of synthetic drugs. The Mouse’s Ear is now only a memory. I have been my constituents’ voice on annexation. This bill gives Tennesseans the right to vote for their property. It’s time the good citizens have a voice. As chairman of the Public Safety Committee, I have taken two resolutions to the committee, then voted on by the full commission. The only promise I make now is the same one I offered the first time: I will be your voice on the County Commission.
“Commissioners Mike Ford, Mark Larkey and myself have worked together on every issue in this district, and results show. I would also like to thank the state-elected officials for what they have done for the citizens of this district.”
Nave is married and has two children and two stepchildren, one grandchild, two step-grandchildren and two step-great grandchildren.
He ran unsuccessfully for a County Commission seat in 2002 and 2006. He was elected in 2010 and is finishing his first term.
• Davenport, 48, was born in Kingsport. He graduated from Daniel Boone High School in 1984 and studied education at ETSU for two years.
In 1989, Davenport started working at Eastman Chemical as a general laborer. He became a team manager at Eastman in its manufacturing division and also was a team manager for sales and technical service. Currently, he is an operations manager at Eastman and has worked there 25 years.
He served on the Daniel Boone Little League Board of Directors and volunteered as an assistant football coach at Ridgeview school in Gray.
“I want to give the people in Gray and Sulphur Springs a choice,” he said. “I think our County Commission over the last few years has too much conflict, and l would like to work to build a consensus and work through those differences. I’d like to do so with honesty and integrity.
“Everybody is talking about communication. That starts with listening. We also need to understand the responsibility we have in overseeing taxpayer dollars. I’ve lived in Gray for 44 years, and I want to give back.”
Davenport is married and has two children, one stepchild and two step-grandchildren. He has not run for public office before this year.
• Littleton, 51, graduated from Daniel Boone High School in 1981. He currently lives in Johnson City.
He served as a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1981-84.
In 1985, Littleton began his career with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy jailor. Later that year, he was assigned to the patrol division. In 1989, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and to the rank of lieutenant in 1991.
Since that time he has held the positions of criminal investigations commander, S.W.A.T. commander, watch commander and operations division captain.
In March, 2003, Sheriff Ed Graybeal appointed Littleton as chief deputy. He is a graduate of the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy, Donelson. He also has attended classes at both ETSU and Walters State Community College.
“I’ve been approached by several individuals in the 7th District who asked me to run,” he said. “I’ve got an interest in our schools and the safety in our schools. We also cannot forget how badly the school system needs funding. I also strongly support law enforcement, EMS and our fire services. I think we need to do all we can to fund these services without a tax hike to provide them with the resources they need.”
Littleton is married and has two children. This is his first attempt at winning an elected office.