While this race has been tranquil compared to the state and federal contest, the City Commission race will arguably have the biggest impact on Johnson City’s citizenry. Considering just three votes make a majority on the City Commission, this race could determine what gets prioritized in the city’s annual budget, what local ordinances get passed and what capital projects get built.
The candidates on the ballot include: Vice Mayor Jenny Brock, Johnson City Board of Education member John Hunter, military veteran William “Bud” Hill Jr., East Tennessee State University student David Adams and Gray resident Jeff Clark.
• David Adams: A student at ETSU, Adams plans to graduate in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Adams lives in downtown Johnson City with his wife, Jessica Adams.
An IT consultant with expertise in networking, software development and hardware repair, Adams currently serves as the technology team leader for Grace Baptist Church in Johnson City and has previously provided consulting services to Science Hill High School’s JROTC Support Association and Christ Centered Community Church.
If elected, Adams said he wants to increase the city’s focus on the technology sector and leverage his background to bring a modern perspective to city government.
Adams said he would govern using a “hands-on leadership style,” bridging the gap between the community and bureaucracy. He believes the biggest issue facing the city is the loss of professional talent due to few job prospects. He highlighted this during the recent Johnson City Press’ Community Forum by explaining how his wife had to search outside Johnson City to find work once she graduated from college.
“If we don’t take the necessary steps now to retain talent and foster high-paying tech-oriented jobs, we may eventually run out of retirees to fill our economic gas can,” Adams said.
• Jenny Brock: First elected to the City Commission in 2013, Brock could be the frontrunner for the mayor’s seat if she’s re-elected, considering Mayor David Tomita chose not to seek another term. A strong advocate for education, Brock previously served on the city school board for six years prior to her commission tenure.
Brock earned degrees in physical education and exercise science from the University of Tennessee and East Tennessee State University. Prior to her retirement, Brock taught at nearly every level of education, from elementary through university, before transitioning to the private sector, where she launched global wellness programs for Texas Instruments and Nortel Networks.
Brock currently volunteers as a golf coach for the First Tee Program, where she mentors young people and teaches character development. She serves on the boards of BrightRidge, the Washington County Animal Control Board, the Ballad Health Workforce Committee and the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership Outdoor Taskforce.
Brock describes her governing philosophy as a “non-partisan trustee” who governs from a core set of ethical principles. She believes the most pressing issue facing the city is population growth, including the lack of young people staying or moving into our area.
• Jeff Clark: A native of Fairfax, Virginia, Clark was raised in Gray by his grandparents before graduating from Daniel Boone in 2011. After moving into the city, Clark entered the retail workforce, where he has worked most of his adult life. Inspired by his grandfather, who served in Vietnam and remains an active member of the Shriners, Clark said giving back to his community through volunteer work is one of his main priorities.
Considering himself a “political outsider” with no business ties, Clark has campaigned on progressive issues while promoting smart economic prosperity. He’s also the only candidate to be endorsed by the Washington County Democratic Party.
Clark said he believes in a compassionate, service-oriented government that listens to all citizens regardless of statute. He believes the city’s most pressing issue is the lack of upward mobility for poor and lower middle-class citizens.
• William “Bud” Hill, Jr.: This year will mark Hill’s fifth consecutive attempt to get elected to the City Commission.
Now retired, Hill was born and raised in Johnson City. He graduated from Science Hill High School and immediately joined the Army, where he served in a combat unit in Vietnam. His extensive civilian resume includes experience working in the aerospace industry, woodworking and computer software sales.
When asked to described his governing philosophy, Hill said it entails “listening, learning, asking questions, investigating, and wisely with some common sense, implementing by delegation.”
Hill believes the city needs to focus on infrastructure needs, especially downtown’s flood control system and road improvements.
• John Hunter: A graduate of ETSU, Hunter has served on the Johnson City Board of Education for the last five years. During his tenure, Hunter helped select Dr. Steve Barnett as the Johnson City Schools’ new superintendent; made improvements to the school’s calendar and expanded Johnson City Schools’ Advanced Placement offerings.
Prior to joining the school board, Hunter served on several community and nonprofit boards and committees, including the planning commission and Seniors Center board. For the last 15 years, Hunter has built a career in community banking, and is now the CEO of Mountain States Credit Union.
The only City Commission candidate endorsed by the Washington County Republican Party, Hunter said his governing philosophy features three key components: accountability, collaboration and communication. He believes the most pressing issue facing the city is the need to continue expanding economic opportunity through workforce development. He also mentioned the need to emphasize quality of life and quality of job offerings to prevent the outflow of young adults.