Former state Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, is challenging incumbent Scott Buckingham for Washington County assessor of property in the GOP race. Early voting for the election begins Wednesday and ends on Feb. 25.
The winner will appear on the county’s Aug. 6 general election ballot.
Buckingham grew up in Gray Station, and graduated from Daniel Boone High School in 1978. He is a 1983 graduate of East Tennessee State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
He married Lana Odom in 1988, and they have two sons, Chase and Ethan.
“I spent 25 years as a contractor and a developer in Washington County prior to becoming assessor of property,” Buckingham said. “That really helps with understanding the values on properties.”
Buckingham served eight years as a member of the Washington County Commission, where he represented the Gray and Sulphur Springs communities.
“As a county commissioner, I am proudest of being involved in the building of two new schools, Ridgeview and Grandview,” he said. “Both are great schools, and are really needed.”
Buckingham, who has been a building contractor since 1991, has served as assessor of property since August 2009. That’s when he was appointed by the County Commission to fill an unexpired term created by his predecessor’s sudden retirement.
Soon after taking office, Buckingham said he began to modernize and computerize its operations to make it more efficient.
“I have been assessor of property for the past nine-and-a-half years,” Buckingham said. “My business knowledge and being a contractor has really been beneficial.”
He has been returned to the assessor pf property’s office three times, last winning re-election in August 2016 by defeating independent candidate Stanley Duane Shell with 64% of the vote.
“Why do I want to be re-elected? It’s simple,” Buckingham said. “I like helping the citizens of Washington County, and to make sure they are getting fair appraisals on their homes and property.”
He said voters should also know that “my door is always open, and I am in the office every day.”
Ford grew up in Pleasant Valley, a small community just outside Jonesborough. He was one of 13 children born to Thomas and Cleo Ford.
“I was number seven, the middle child, and I learned early on the art of getting along with others,” Ford said. “I graduated from Sulphur Springs School, enlisted in the United States Army — where I became a mess sergeant — and later attended East Tennessee State University.”
He has been married to his wife, Joyce, for 29 years, and they have five children, nine grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Ford was a Major League Baseball umpire for more than 25 years. He umpired in World Series and All-Star games, as well as several playoff games. He also officiated major college basketball.
“After retiring from baseball, I spent three terms in Nashville as a state representative, bringing water and road projects back to my district,” Ford said.
He represented the 6th District in the state House of Representatives from 2007 until he was unseated by state Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, in the 2012 GOP Primary.
“I was also able to bring $1 million back to Jonesborough for their sewer project,” Ford said.
He lost the Republican race for Washington County trustee by 81 votes to former County Commissioner Rick Storey in 2018.
Ford said he continues to give back to the local community in a number of ways, including umpiring high school baseball games.
“Along with my wife and other family members, we organized and cooked over 300 benefit dinners for people in need,” he said..
If elected assessor of property, Ford said he will “bring fair and accurate assessments to all property owners.” Ford said he has “the ability to work with individuals, listening to and solving problems and treating everyone fairly.”
Ford said he plans to oversee the assessor’s office as a “a full-time employee and stay abreast of current state laws.” He also said he would be a professional who “truthfully and honestly” answers all questions from property owners.
“I want voters to know that I am a Christian, I am honest and hardworking and will gladly keep my county informed and that everyone will be treated fairly and equally,” Ford said.
Early voting for March 3 GOP primary will be held at the former Ace Hardware building, 220 N. Second Ave., Jonesborough; the Johnson City Fire Station, 106 Gray Commons Circle; and the former Princeton Arts Center building, 2516 E. Oakland Ave.