By Collin Brooks
Four candidates vied for the 4th District Washington County Commission seat, and in a style similar of a gameshow, the candidates were lowered to two.
In the end, Richard Johnson defeated Tyler Parsons 15-7 in the final vote, gaining the seat that was vacated by current Johnson City Mayor David Tomita.
A gleeful Johnson said that he was happy that his now-constituents voted him in.
“I believe that my experience has demonstrated that I am a good listener and I believe that my experience also demonstrates that I give every issue thoughtful consideration before I make a decision,” Johnson said.
Johnson was appointed as chancellor in 1988 by former Tennessee Governor Ned McWherter and he served at that post until his retired in 2012.
His toughest competition seemed to be Parsons, who is the general manager of the Johnson City Cardinals. The other two candidates were Dr. Jodi Polaha Jones and Phil McPeak. The voting was handled in three rounds, with each commissioner voting for their favorite. The lowest vote getter was eliminated. After the first round Jones — who was the only candidate to have members of the public speak to the commission in favor of her as four people spoke — only received one vote.
That didn’t seem to please the person that nominated her, 4th District Commissioner Katie Baker. She abstained through the next parts of the voting, because she said it didn’t seem to matter that a qualified candidate, who met their due diligence, wasn’t given an equal opportunity.
During the next round of voting, McPeak was eliminated. That set the final showdown.
After the meeting, Johnson said he was pleased to get the nod.
“The commission’s plate is full,” Johnson said. “There are so many issues, I don’t know at this point how to prioritize any of them. I’ve been attending commission meetings and committee meetings as well and now I feel like I can hit the ground running and I’ll have a background on some of the issues that are ahead of the commission.
“The Washington County Commission is on the cusp of initiating and completing projects that they have thought of and been working on for years and I want to be a part of that,” Johnson said. “The 21st century is going to be very exciting for the Washington County Commission.”