By ALLEN RAU
Election time is fast approaching, and the final two candidates for the Washington County mayor’s office are racing towards the finish line.
The candidates for the Washington County mayoral race are Republican Joe Grandy and Independent James Reeves.
Joe Grandy was elected to the Washington County Commission in 2010 and is currently the chairman of the budget committee.
“I’ve lived here for 33 years, and am a local businessman. I opened up a Ferguson Enterprises branch, started with seven people and built the business to over 80 people,” Grandy said recently. “I’ve been on the Johnson City/Washington County Regional Planning Commission, (have) been on all sorts of different boards.”
While he has been on the commission for eight years, Grandy said he still has unfinished business he would like to see complete.
“I want to see some of the things we instituted in the last three to four years implemented. And really, for me, it’s always been about service. Whether it’s about service for our customers of the business, or whether it’s service for some non-profit organization on which I’ve served,” Grandy said.
“I just want to be able to continue my opportunity to serve Washington County in a larger and unique way as I’ve been able to wind down my business career.”
The biggest issue facing the county, Grandy believes, “is the lack of growth. So we just need to develop our young people and train them in work-related job skills so that we have a solid workforce of folks here in Washington County to attract some businesses that will help our county grow.
“One of the things that we know is about 75 percent of all new job creation comes from existing business. So I definitely will have a focus on our existing businesses and trying to help them grow and expand and create employment opportunities for the folks that are here.”
Having spent 33 years running a local business, Grandy said the experience in that role has prepared him for the office.
“I think I’m uniquely qualified based on my business and leadership. I’m a leader for a successful business for a number of years. I’m going to provide leadership and stewardship to the citizens of Washington County in my role as mayor.”
Grandy’s opponent, James Reeves, is a Johnson City resident and, according to the biography on his website, opened Reeves Alignment and Auto Care over six years ago. Before opening his business, Reeves was in the U.S. Air Force and was employed as an auto mechanic for 30 years.
While he has not served in public office, he has run for the county mayor’s office previously, in 2010. He has also been a very frequent attendee of county meetings.
“As far as county politics, I’ve been pretty entrenched in going to commission meetings and things like that for about 12 years now. One of those common faces that … go in there and speak the truth and I’ve gained a lot of respect from a lot of different people over those years.”
Reeves started a petition drive in 2007 to put the wheel tax on the ballot.
“Twelve years ago I helped fight back the wheel tax in Washington County. I started the petition and we got all the signatures and got it turned in and on the ballot and we got it voted down.”
Reeves is also no stranger to political conflict.
According to his bio, “In 2016, James Reeves, in speaking against a proposed $0.40 tax increase for Washington County, was escorted from the courthouse fighting what he considers to truly be a slush fund for the politicians in charge of the county.”
Reeves believes what makes him stand out “is truth and honesty. And I’m a regular, working guy. I’ve owned my own place in Tennessee here for seven years now. And I do everything from the taxes, to writing the checks, to working on the cars.”
Asked about which issues were most important for the county, Reeves stated, “I think if we can put trust back in the government, no matter what county, city or federal level. You make employees that are working for the county and the school system happy. That drains into other people and your growth can be self-created by just us all getting along as a community.”
Early voting began on July 13 and will end on July 28. Election Day is Aug. 2.