A world of difference exists between a politician and a statesman. While a statesman may have to utilize politics to achieve certain goals, conscientious drives decision-making, not personal aspirations or fever-raising antics.

Northeast Tennessee needs a statesman in Congress, not a pure politician. The 1st Congressional District needs a representative who will fight for improvement for its citizens, not someone caught up in the political rancor dividing this nation.

We believe the candidate with the most potential to fill that role is Steve Darden.

Johnson City’s native son has a long track record of statesmanship and civic-minded principles, dating back to even before he first entered public office as a member of the City Commission in 2001. He has accumulated countless hours of community service as a volunteer, youth sports coach and board member.

During his 10 years on the Commission, including two as mayor, Darden demonstrated the leadership skills and vision necessary to move this city ahead. Darden was among those responsible for the city’s flooding mitigation efforts, the revitalization of downtown and the development of Founders Park. He set the course for advances in the West Walnut Street corridor and advocated improvements to Interstate 26.

And like the current national situation, the Johnson City Commission was bitterly divided for much of his tenure. Yet Darden was an agent of progress in the face of those divisions.

His experience as a labor attorney and negotiator makes him the right choice to fight through the politics in Washington to develop policy that is good for both the nation and the people of this district. He will not be intimidated or overwhelmed in the swamp. He seems grounded in the traditional conservative principles of his family and his community, not allegiance to outsiders.

Perhaps most importantly, Darden has shown himself to be a reasoned man who maintains the disposition necessary to represent the 1st District with the dignity, fortitude and sense of honor the office deserves.

The Johnson City Press endorses Steve Darden for Congress in Thursday’s Republican primary and the general election Nov. 3.