Johnson City’s newly elected city commissioners and Board of Education members were sworn in Monday at the 38th Inaugural Ceremony at the Municipal & Safety Building as about 200 onlookers gathered to witness the event.
The Boy Scout Troop 240 Color Guard kicked things off by raising the Johnson City, Tennessee and American flags. City Manager Pete Peterson spoke briefly about the magnitude of the decisions the office-holders will have in the days going forward and the roles they will play in the community’s future.
Following the traditional swearing in by City Recorder Janet Jennings, a reception was held inside the lobby where the hand shaking and mingling lasted for nearly an hour.
On April 23, Jenny Brock and David Tomita bested a field of seven candidates and will position themselves in chambers on May 16 as the two newest members of the Johnson City Commission. A mayor and vice mayor will be elected on that date.
The victors will replace Jane Myron, who served two terms as a commissioner but failed at a try for a third, and Phil Carriger, who chose not to run for a second term.
Brock, a former school board member, and Tomita, a Washington County commissioner who will serve on both bodies, were never seriously challenged and ran neck-and-neck from the time the first precinct reported until the last. Brock garnered the most votes with 2,417, or 29.3 percent. Tomita was close behind with 2,364, or 28.6 percent.
Brock, 63, consistently remarked during her campaign that she wanted to be a commissioner who is a progressive thinker, optimistic and not afraid to deal with the tough issues.
“Quite honestly, this is a very humbling experience,” she said. “For me, to be one of five people to provide guidance for the city is an honor, and I plan to work very hard for the citizens. The budget is the first task at hand, and we have a pretty good handle on how things work. Mr. Peterson is saying the revenue streams will really have to be looked at very carefully.”
Brock is married to husband Michael. They have a daughter and three grandchildren. She graduated from Science Hill High School in 1967, and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree at the University of Tennessee in physical education and a master’s degree from ETSU in exercise physiology.
She serves on the Johnson City Power Board and has been chairwoman the past two years. She also is on the Golf Advisory Board and started a tradition: the Johnson City Turkey Trot. She and Myron also started Up & At ‘Em, a program that addresses health issues for area youth. She also was an instructor and is now a coach for the worldwide instructional program The First Tee.
Tomita, 51, will continue to serve on the 25-member County Commission, becoming the first person to hold a seat on both the city and county legislative bodies. He has cited an immediate need for better communication between the two bodies and the failure of the City/County Liaison Committee to show any marked progress over the past few years.
“I’m honored to be sworn in today,” he said. “The voters of Johnson City have shown a lot of confidence in me. We’re going into another budget workshop today. But I think Jenny and I will be able to get up to speed quickly. That’s got to be job number one.
“It’s an exciting time, and there’s a lot waiting in the wings. I was also pleasantly surprised last week at the City/County Liaison Committee meeting. I think we will start to work together. We have to.”
Tomita, a 1979 graduate of Science Hill High School, is First Tennessee’s Brokerage’s vice president/investment officer. He is married to wife Jenny and has three children. He also is president of the SHHS Band Boosters; Dawn of Hope Foundation Board of Trustees member; Johnson City Junior Achievement board member; Hands On! Regional Museum board of directors member and a Johnson City Development Authority board member.
The city’s five commissioners each make $100 per month; the mayor makes $150 per month.
Voters this year also sent incumbents Kathy Hall, Richard Manahan, Tom Hager and Sheila Cox to the Johnson City Board of Education, alongside newcomer John Hunter for his first term on the board.
The board, including its newest member, met Monday night and elected its officers.
Seven candidates sought four, four-year terms, and two candidates ran for the two-year unexpired term left open when Brock chose to run for a seat on the City Commission. Hunter won a four-year term; Cox captured the opening for the unexpired term.
Hall was the top vote-getter among all City Commission and board candidates with 2,923 votes. She will serve a third term. She has a background in marketing and communications and has one child in the city school system.
Manahan won a fourth term on the board. He serves as vice president for university advancement at East Tennessee State University. He joined the board in 1999.
Hager, a veteran school board member of 30 years, finished third in the four-year term category. He joined the board in 1983 and will be serving for a sixth term. He works as an investigator with the Public Defender’s Office for the 1st Judicial District.
Finishing fourth to capture the final four-year seat on the board was Hunter, who works as a commercial lender with an area bank.
Cox, who has served on the board for 12 years, is the area director for the National League of Junior Cotillions.
Board members receive no compensation.