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Decision day in Northeast Tennessee

Johnson City Press • Aug 2, 2018 at 8:15 AM

While all elections are important, we urge voters to pay particular attention today to the local races on each county’s ballot, specifically mayoral, commission and school board contests.

Local elections have the most consequences for the daily lives of residents, especially in taxation, education, economic development and infrastructure. Those you put in office will be tasked not only with representing constituents’ desires but also the best interests of their entire communities.

We recognize, though, that today’s big draw will be the Tennessee gubernatorial primaries, and the results will have far-reaching consequences for the state’s men, women and children. Those include financial protections for our rural hospitals, drastically improving public health, expanding broadband access, raising the education level and skill set of our workforce and making Tennessee more competitive for high-paying jobs.

We remind you of our recommendations in the governor’s races: Bill Lee in the GOP primary and Craig Fitzhugh in the Democratic primary. We believe both men have clear strategies for taking on Tennessee’s challenges and opportunities and have displayed tone indicative of character.

We also remind you of our endorsement in Washington County’s mayoral contest. Joe Grandy has the business background, political experience and level composure to be a governmental executive, and we believe he can work well with county commissioners and school board members alike to move the county out of its stagnation on key concerns.

Speaking of Washington County’s commissioners and school board members, voters have an opportunity to set the standard for cooperation between the two bodies. While we have made no endorsements in those contests, we suggest that you cast your votes with one question in mind: Who will move the county and our schools ahead, not backward?

We also remind Johnson City and Jonesborough voters that these elections are just as important to their families as those in unincorporated areas of the county. All 15 commission seats and six of nine school board seats are on the ballot today, although several commission district nominees are unopposed.

Voters in Carter County have a few tough races on their ballots today, including the second face-off between incumbent Mayor Leon Humphrey and Republican nominee Rusty Barnett. Barnett defeated Humphrey in the four-candidate May primary, but Humphrey re-entered the race as a write-in candidate. Humphrey’s hopes largely ride on his veto of a recent tax increase put forth by the County Commission. Likewise, Sullivan County voters will have to choose a winner in a bitter contest between incumbent Sheriff Wayne Anderson and challenger Jeff Cassidy, a former corrections officer.

Regardless of which county you call home, please vote today if you did not do so during the early voting period. The polls open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. If you are unsure where your precinct is, call your local Election Commission office.

We hope you can set aside much of the animosity and political posturing you hear in television ads and read in direct mail by delving deeper into the candidates’ positions regarding the public affairs that matter most to your way of life.

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