By Collin Brooks
A resignation by 4th District Washington County Commissioner Katie Baker has left a vacancy on the Washington County Commission that will be filled during their meeting on July 24.
So far, two people have emerged to say they would like to fill the vacancy. Dr. Jodi Polaha Jones and, most recently, Josh Culbert, who are both Tree Street residents.
Jones, an associate professor at East Tennessee State University, plans on seeking the seat again, after she was nominated in February by Baker to fill David Tomita’s 4th District seat. Tomita gave up the seat to devote his full time to being Johnson City’s Mayor. But Baker was the only vote that Jones received, as she was eliminated from the voting after the first round. The seat was filled by Allen Johnson.
That situation didn’t detour Jones from attempting another try.
“I really am committed to serving the community and I feel that I have the communication skills and the leadership skills to do a great job,” she said.“I was certainly disappointed (about losing) but I believe many on the Commission see me as qualified and may consider me in this new situation.
Culbert isn’t only new to this particular race, this will be his first dabble in the political realm. However, being in politics is something that he has kept his eye on for some time.
“I’ve always had an interest in politics and local government and how I can give back to the community that has blessed me tremendously and given me so many opportunities and resources,” said Culbert, who noted he is a conservative thought, both fiscally and socially. “I see this as an opportunity to give back and serve and offer what I could for the community.”
Culbert started calling commissioners late last week expressing his interest. Jones was attempting to call commissioners in her district since she returned to town over the weekend, but hadn’t reached them as of Monday night.
Jones said she feels like she knows the people in her district well and has worked on projects and initiatives in her district to get to know the people from her area.
Culbert is a lifelong resident of Johnson City and graduated from ETSU through the Roan Scholars program and graduated with a Masters of Accountancy in 2012. He is currently employed at Northwestern Mutual.
Johnson City Cardinals General Manager Tyler Parsons and former County Commissioner Phil McPeak, who each were interested in filling the vacant seat in February, said they were not interested in the nomination this time.