ELIZABETHTON — For the first time in his career, 4th District Rep. Kent Williams will be campaigning outside of Carter County when he seeks a fourth term in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
Williams has announced he will be a candidate, but he will once again be required to run as an independent after being elected as a Republican during his first two terms.
Williams is a member of the Commerce Committee and the State and Local Government Committee. He served as speaker of the house in 2009-10.
Williams said he hopes to continue working to get the proposed Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency state-of-the-art fish hatchery built next to the Watauga River in the Cherokee Industrial Park. He also will continue working with the Tennessee Department of Transportation on the Highway 91 improvement project.
With groundbreaking scheduled for several state projects in the coming months, Williams said he has worked hard to ensure that state funding does not stop at Knoxville as it had for too many years in the past.
He said two projects that will have a great impact on the region’s economic future are the groundbreaking on the new building for the Tennessee Technology Center — Elizabethton. The second project is improvements to the Gap Creek Highway. Williams said TDOT has continued to improve the infrastructure in Carter County with new bridges across the Watauga River to replace outdated structures at Siam and Lynn Avenue. Another bridge replacement is being built in Elk Mills.
He said he has restored funds for the Tennessee Department of Correction’s prisoner community work program, which has provided considerable labor for the county from the Northeast Correctional Complex centers at Mountain City and Roan Mountain.
Williams refers to himself as a Carter County Republican. Although he has had the support of local Republican Executive Committee members, downstate Republican Executive Committee members voted to remove him from the state party in 2009 in response to his election to the House of Representatives Speakership with the support of the Democratic Party.
In a letter written March 13, Chris Devaney, chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, told election administrators in Carter, Johnson and Unicoi counties that the executive committee has not voted since then to restore Williams’ status in the party.
“As chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, it is my duty to inform you Representative Williams remains a Republican not in good standing,” Devaney wrote.
Although he will not be a candidate in the Republican Primary, Williams said Monday he will be running in the general election.