Washington County Mayoral Race: Tomita believes he can enhance Johnson City, Washington County cooperation

Zach Vance • Updated Feb 17, 2018 at 11:21 PM

In 2013, David Tomita became the first person to serve on the Washington County Commission and Johnson City Commission simultaneously.

After the 2016 election, Tomita resigned his county post to take the title of Johnson City’s mayor, a position his colleagues on the City Commission selected him for.

But now, Tomita wants the voters of Washington County to select him as their mayor.

Tomita could add another “first” beside his name by becoming the first Johnson City mayor to be elected Washington County mayor in living memory.

If elected, Tomita told the Johnson City Press he would try to remain in his city commissioner role for the remaining two months of that term, which ends in November.

It’s unknown if Tomita would choose or be required to relinquish his title of Johnson City mayor, but state law, TCA 5-6-104 states county mayors “shall not, during the term of office, hold any other public office for profit.”

Tomita was initially set to run for county trustee before making a last-minute decision to enter the mayoral race against fellow Republicans Joe Grandy and Mark Ferguson. The winner of the May 1 Republican primary will contend against independent James Reeves in the August general election.

So what makes Tomita believe he can serve as the county’s next top executive?

Well, his unprecedented experience and relationships with county and city officials is a place to start.

“It’s vital that we work together. I have a perspective of how things work well, how things don’t work well (and) the unintended consequences of what we do,” Tomita said.

“I keep saying it, but it’s about (Johnson City and Washington County) together, not separate. Our success or failures are connected in a big kind of way, especially now. We’ve got to make that priority.”

A prime example of how the city and county can benefit from cooperating, Tomita said, is the discussions surrounding the Boones Creek athletic complex. Both the city and county could benefit and save significant sums by partnering together to building one first-class athletic complex as opposed to each building separate fields.

Tomita said another example would be extending municipal water lines to rural county areas currently lacking clean water access.

“There’s so much we can do together and we don’t because we let other things get in the way of doing that,” Tomita, who is an account executive for Widener Insurance Agency Inc., said.

“I can work with folks. I have relationships, and I think my relationships on both sides can help that along a lot.”

Tomita said he doesn’t consider himself the nonconformist candidate, but he did note that he believes things “can be done better and done more effectively” than the current administration.

“We have a lot of assets here that we don’t leverage. There’s a lot of things that we don’t do that we should be doing,” Tomita said.

Since he entered the race less than three months from Election Day, Tomita doesn’t plan on throwing a campaign launch party, but he did say he would be knocking on doors in local communities and listening to people.

“I listen to people. I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but I listen to people. I surround myself with good people, I listen to them and I process that. I take it into consideration,” he said.

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