Incumbent David Shanks and challenger Todd Hensley are entered in the May 6 Republican Primary, and both will automatically move on to the Aug. 7 county general election where they will be joined on the ballot by independent Danny Edens.
District 9 is a large and mostly rural area. It is located on the southeastern part of the county and includes a slice of Telford, as well as the Conklin, West View and Embreeville communities. It has 9,378 inhabitants. Shanks, 65, was born in Greeneville but has lived in Washington County his entire life.
He is a Sulphur Springs High School graduate who earned a bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University in industrial education. He taught in both the Washington and Sullivan county school systems .
Shanks worked for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in Greeneville in its Archer Division. He also served for three years as the town of Jonesborough’s development council director. The bulk of his career was spent with Alliance for Business and Training as an employment counselor. The business serves a five-county area. He retired five years ago as its executive director.
He serves on the county’s Solid Waste, CIA and Health and Welfare committees.
Shanks now raises cattle on three small farms.
“I serve in one of the most rural areas of Washington County,” he said. “My core values line up pretty well with my constituency. When I vote, I try to vote how my constituents want to vote. I strongly support recent annexation legislation that will exempt farmland. If elected again, I will be honored to serve.”
Shanks is married and has two children. He is finishing his first term as a commissioner.
Hensley, 48, was born in Washington County and graduated from David Crockett High School. In 1989, he earned a bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University in electronic engineering technology.
While being a farmer all his life, he also has operated Shorty’s Market. He currently owns Appalachian Light and Production, which caters to the special event industry. The company supplies and produces these services for the Blue Plum Festival, the International Storytelling Festival and others.
Hensley also is a licensed general contractor and a licensed private pilot.
He is a Jonesborough Kiwanis Club board member and has worked with the Sequoyah Council Boy Scouts.
“I think Washington County deserves better than what they’ve been getting,” he said. “The county is a $125 million a year business, and it should be run like one. I think the County Commission should act more like a board of directors. There are too many commissioners, and there are some on there that tend to have self-serving interests. We’ve got a great county here, and it’s time for a change — a different outlook. I’m also a pro-growth guy and want to encourage economic development.”
Hensley is married and has two children. This is his first attempt at running for a public office.
Edens, 50, was born in Johnson City and graduated from David Crockett High School. He then joined the U.S. Air Force and was an aircraft inspection specialist. He worked for Coca-Cola Bottling Co., and then as a security guard at Erwin’s Nuclear Fuel Services for six years.
He has been the town of Jonesborough’s Water Meter Department assistant supervisor for the past 18 years.
“My dad served on the County Commission, and I was quite involved in it with him and through him,” he said. “It’s just something I want to do. I’m firmly grounded in the community, and I just want to get involved. I’ve still got the itch, and I just want to serve the people.
“I am pro schools, and we have to do something to help them. I also support our county employees and county services, and we must be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. We’re only as good as the services we provide. I’d also like to see the commission put politics aside and take care of the county’s business.”
Edens is married and has two children and two grandchildren. He was appointed in 2005 to serve out his father’s (Rick Edens) term when he passed away. He was elected to a full four-year term in 2006 but was defeated in the 2010 election.
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