Departures will mean shakeup on Wash. Co. Commission

Gary B. Gray • Feb 10, 2014 at 9:32 PM

Democrat Nancy Fischman has decided to run for a spot on the Washington County Commission this year instead of making another run at state Rep. Matthew Hill’s House seat.

She will run as an independent in the county’s May 6 Republican Primary for one of two open seats to represent the county’s 5th Commission District — a district that is loosing two familiar faces: Ken Lyon and Ethan Flynn.

The State Primary and County General Election is Aug. 7.

Lyon, who has been a commissioner for 12 years, says he no longer has the tolerance for the “rebel-rousers” who he says control the commission. Flynn is a one and done. He says he will step down to concentrate on his career and family.

Fischman is well aware she’s fighting the “R” factor. Three Republicans already are in the hunt: Jimmy Zuka, Robert Tester and Gary McAllister. Not only are her opponents Republican, the county and the region is packed with conservative voters.

Fischman lost to Hill in 2012, though she landed a surprising 34.2 percent of the vote.

“I think there are a lot of local issues coming down from the state, and addressing these issues will help give me the experience I need to be in a better position to run for state office, she said. “I talked with a few people and they suggested this might be a better place to start. I’ve been told there’s been some indecision on the commission.”

She called incumbent County Mayor Dan Eldridge “a fresh face” and a person that’s very valuable to the county.

“I think I can bring a fresh viewpoint running as an independent,” she added. “Yes, I’m running as an independent, but I am a Democrat. I think I’ll bring a more progressive viewpoint. Everyone I’ve talked to think this is a very good idea.”

Lyon did not name names, but he did voice his concern over a voting bloc that’s formed within the commission.

“I’ve had enough,” he said. “I certainly don’t want to be involved in the racket that’s going on there. I’m not a young man anymore, and I don’t have the tolerance for it. The problem is you have people out just for themselves.”

Lyon referenced last month’s full commission meeting when County Owned Property Committee members surrounded Eldridge, raised their voices and called him a liar. Eldridge had said committee members were contacted and asked to attend a Budget Committee meeting at which the COP’s proposal for courthouse renovations were discussed.

Apparently they were not directly contacted.

“They should be ashamed,” Lyon said. “This stuff about getting in his face and having a sheriff’s deputy restrain them — that’s sad.”

Lyon said he’ll throw his support behind Fischman.

Meanwhile, Flynn, who is a Budget Committee member, has decided that one go-round is enough.

“I’m going to focus on my career and my family,” said Flynn who is an analyst at Johnson City’s Power Tool Co. “It’s not because of the drama on the County Commission, though it has been disappointing. I can understand Ken’s frustration. And, I would assume the winner of the Republican primary will win that seat.”

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