Grandy announces Washington County mayoral campaign, pledges to reduce debt

Zach Vance • Updated Nov 14, 2017 at 11:02 PM

Washington County Commissioner Joe Grandy became the first candidate to publicly enter the race for county mayor in 2018 during an announcement speech to supporters inside the Jonesborough Visitors Center Tuesday.

Hoping his financial savviness and previous accomplishments will sway voters, Grandy pledged to tackle Washington County’s $160 million worth of debt, write a long-term debt management plan and prioritize regionalization if he becomes the county’s next top executive.

“Washington County and the whole entire community have been a big part of my life for the last 32 years,” Grandy, who currently chairs the county’s Budget Committee, said. “I just feel like it’s my time, in this point in my career, to step up and give back in a very significant and unique way.”

Knocking past administrations, Grandy said he is “disturbed the county has debt from 2007 we haven’t even paid a dime of principle on. You’d never do that to your own family.”

Grandy, a two-term District 6 representative, also touted a long-term arrangement that will make the county debt-free by 2037, although he did not detail specifics of the plan.

A proponent of continuing regional cooperation efforts, Grandy complimented the recent efforts of five local governments to establish an Aerospace Park at the Tri-Cities Airport, which is expected to bring about 2,000 high-paying jobs to the region.

“If we want to solve our toughest challenges and make the most of the opportunities that come our way, we’ve got to realize we’re all in this together,” Grandy said. “You see, when outside companies look at Northeast Tennessee, they see one distinct region. That’s why we’ll be much more effective if we market our entire area as a single unit.”

Grandy’s past accomplishments include serving on the Washington County Economic Development Council, which this year combined economic development efforts with Carter and Unicoi counties under the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership. 

The eastern Virginia native also served on the Johnson City Power Board during its recent transition to becoming an energy authority, which board members said allows the utility to more easily offer additional services, like broadband internet.

“We need to open up broadband competition to get faster, cheaper internet and cellphone service throughout Washington County. This is an essential ingredient for the educational and economic opportunities that will lead to better-paying jobs,” Grandy said.

Introduced by Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable, Grandy had plenty of influential supporters present for his kickoff event, including Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe, County Commissioner Tom Krieger and City Commissioner Jenny Brock.

Current Mayor Dan Eldridge, however, was not present. Grandy’s entry into the mayoral race comes less than a month after Eldridge announced he would not seek a third term during a commission meeting.

Grandy currently works as an area manager for Ferguson Enterprises, a plumbing supply company, where he’s worked since 1977.

Email Zach Vance at [email protected] Follow Zach Vance on Twitter at @ZachVanceJCP. Like him on Facebook.com/ZachVanceJCP






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