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Former Washington County commissioner picks up papers to run for mayor

Zach Vance • Updated Jan 3, 2018 at 6:10 PM

There might be a competitive Washington County mayoral race in 2018 after all. 

Before 2017 came to a close, former 6th District County Commissioner Mark Ferguson picked up a nominating petition to run for mayor in the Republican primary. 

As of Wednesday, Washington County election officials confirmed Ferguson and current 6th District Commissioner Joe Grandy were the only mayoral candidates who’ve actually picked up the necessary paperwork to run.

Candidates running in the May primary have had since Nov. 17 to pick up nominating petitions. Those petitions have to be returned to the Washington County Election Commission by Feb. 15 with at least 25 signatures.

As a candidate who has experienced both victory and defeat, Ferguson certainly isn’t a political novice by any means.

In 2002, Ferguson was defeated by just nine votes for a seat on the County Commission.

Three years later, the commission nominated Ferguson to serve the remainder of Commissioner Joe Wilson’s term.

From there, Ferguson was elected to two full terms in 2006 and 2010.

During his tenure, he served on the Beer Board, Commercial, Industrial and Agricultural Committee, County-Owned Property Committee, Rules Committee and Oversight and Steering Committee. He also chaired the Committee on Committees in 2013.

Ferguson’s name last appeared on the ballot during the bizarre 2014 May primary, when he was inaccurately declared the winner over challenger Tom Foster for a seat on the County Commission.

At the end of the night, the Election Commission’s website incorrectly showed Ferguson as one of the three winners, although it was later determined Foster and Ferguson’s vote totals had inadvertently been swapped.

Two days after the election, MicroVote General Corp. President Jim Ries issued a news release saying an employee’s error resulted in an inaccurate vote total posted on the Election Commission’s website.

Once the results were corrected, Ferguson had garnered just 11.9 percent of the vote, not nearly enough to advance to that year’s August general election.

The three winners of that race all garnered at least 25 percent of the vote. Grandy placed third in that race, with 1,510 votes compared to Ferguson’s 703 votes. Foster and Tom Krieger were the other two 6th District primary winners in 2014. 

Ferguson, a local businessman, has remained largely out of the spotlight since that race and did not return multiple calls from the Johnson City Press requesting comment.

In October, current Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge announced he would not seek re-election, saying he never intended to serve more than two terms.

This year’s primary is May 1 with the winners advancing to the general election on Aug. 2. 

Email Zach Vance at zvance@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Zach Vance on Twitter at @ZachVanceJCP. Like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/ZachVanceJCP.

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