By MARINA WATERS
There is now a vacant seat on the Board of Washington County Commissioners and soon that position will appear on the Nov. 3 election ballot.
During its July 27 regularly scheduled meeting, the commission accepted Gary McAllister’s resignation from his elected position. McAllister said he can no longer represent the citizens of District 13 as he is moving to a different district.
“I hated to step down,” McAllister said, “but the opportunity came up where I had an opportunity for a house in an area I have been wanting for many years since I moved back here. It’s the perfect situation. I love the commission. It’s been a great experience and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and all the other commissioners — even though we didn’t agree on everything — everyone was always kind and pleasant and we always tried to work together.”
McAllister was a commissioner for six years and served on multiple committees, including the employee health and benefits committee. For the former commissioner, serving on the county’s committees provided many highlights for him, along with the more controversial topics the full commission has tackled through the years.
“I’ve been chairman for six years for the employee compensation committee,” McAllister said. “We’ve helped keep costs for health insurance and established a clinic. Working with Michele Stewart, the full-time health benefits coordinator, was a pleasure. We were able to keep costs down. There haven’t been any increases in several years and employees still get a very good health benefits package.
“The controversial (topics) always kind of standout. We had some issues on taxes and schools. Then also we had the biggest one, maybe the most memorable — how people felt about gay marriage. That was a big event. It showed that people had a chance to voice what they thought. Whether you’re for it or against it, it was a night that a lot of people could speak and see how their local government works.”
McAllister said he plans to continue his community work, which includes serving at the board level for the Isaiah House, the Coalition for Kids and United Way.
“I enjoy doing things in the community,” McAllister said. “I like getting involved. Whether it’s in the community or in politics, I’m going to stay involved in the community.”
As for McAllister’s vacant seat on the commission, according to Tennessee Code Annotated § 5-1-104(b)(2), the Republican, Democrat and Independent parties in the county are to select a candidate to run for the position when a vacancy occurs less than 60 days before the August election but 60 days or more before the November election.
“It’ll be decided in the election in November,” Commission Chairman Greg Matherly told the Herald & Tribune. “We won’t be involved in that. The Republican Party will have a nominee, the Democrats will have a nominee and then the Independents. They’ll run in November to decide who takes the place on that.”
Kenneth Huffine is the sole candidate to file a petition for the vacant commission seat as of Monday, Aug. 17 at 3 p.m. Huffine was selected by the Washington County Republican Party on Saturday, Aug. 15.
Papers have also been picked up for the Jonesborough Aldermen race. Incumbent Terry Countermine has filed while Incumbent Adam Dickson has picked up papers. Meanwhile, Bill Graham, Jason Greenlee, Fred Kemp and Lucas Schmidt have all picked up papers. Greenlee is the only challenger to have filed so far. In the Town of Jonesborough Mayor’s race, Mayor Chuck Vest is currently running uncontested.
The deadline to file for the Nov. 3 election is Thursday, Aug. 20. Anyone picking up or filing papers is asked to come to the election commission office at 100 E Main Street, Jonesborough. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on the upcoming Nov. 3 election, go to http://wcecoffice.com/.