By Collin Brooks
David Tomita was selected by his constituents to become the next mayor of Johnson City during the Johnson City’s Commission meeting on Thursday, Dec. 15, while Jenny Brock was unanimously selected as vice-mayor.
As a result, Tomita will be stepping down from his position as Washington County Commissioner, as he said he would prior to the vote. Tomita made his announcement during Monday’s Washington County Commission meeting, with an effective date of Jan. 30.
“(That will) de-clutter and simplify everything a little bit. I don’t want any noise, we have a lot of work to do and we have a lot of potential,” Tomita said. “We can work on relations between the two legislative bodies without me serving on both. My family will appreciate it and my practice will appreciate it.”
With Tomita’s vacant seat, the Washington County Commission will now have two seats to fill, after Joe Wise announced his resignation from the county commission during their November meeting.
Before nominations were held, Tomita made his announcement about his intentions to step down if elected, while Brock positioned for the opportunity to be selected mayor, noting that the city’s charter says anyone could be elected mayor, it didn’t have to be the vice-mayor.
Brock suggested that the commission should adopt a “more open process to discuss the merits and the insights of anyone that would like to be considered,” as she read from a prepared statement that listed off her merits and goals.
Commissioner Ralph Van Brocklin passed on his opportunity to vote through the first go-round, and chose instead to make a few comments before he cast his vote for Tomita.
“Mayor Tomita and I had some conversations about some things that I was a little concerned about with him stepping into this role,” Van Brocklin said. “The fact that he has committed to step off the county commission addresses those concerns.”
One of the concerns that Van Brocklin addressed was that Tomita may not have enough time to attend all of the city meetings and deal with all of the duties that are called upon by the mayor.
Before the vote was made, Tomita addressed some of those issues.
“There has always been an error of question of conflict of interest with my serving on the Johnson City Commission and the Washington County Commission and that conversation became even more prevalent as the selection of mayor became a topic of discussion,” Tomita said. “I obviously disagree that there is a conflict of interest, but sometimes things are what they are. Perception is reality.”