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Wolfe leads PAC to oust commissioner

A Political Action Committee formed in January to target County Commissioner Mark Ferguson is headed by Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe.
“There are a lot of folks in Washington County who are unhappy with county government,” Wolfe said. “If you want to affect change, you have to get involved.”
According to Wolfe, he and treasurer Sam Barnett are the main officers of the PAC. Barnett is a marketing strategist with Creative Energy in Johnson City.
“We have a group we consult with,” Wolfe said. “It’s not a large board, but we are in contact with a lot of people who keep their fingers on the pulse of the community.”
The Washington County Citizens for Better Government wanted to start a discussion about public officials who are obstructing the progress of the commission and the county, according to Wolfe.
“Our goal would be for civility to return to the commission, and for those commissioners who might have been allied (with Ferguson) to take another look at their position,” he said.
A “collaborative effort” among PAC members produced a 10-inch postcard that was mailed last month to residents in the 6th commission district. The card refers to Ferguson as an embarrassment to the county and discourages citizens from voting for him in the Republican Primary on Tuesday, May 6.
Despite being a fellow Republican, Wolfe insists there is no conflict of interest between his PAC service and his roles as Republican state executive committeeman and town mayor.
“As far as the town office, I’ve been involved in various other campaigns during my time as mayor, so this is not unique,” he said.
Wolfe does acknowledge, however, the issue is “particularly sensitive” because it involves a county commissioner.
“If any toes have been stepped on, I do apologize,” he said. “When things get to a certain state of affairs, you have to suck it up and fight the good fight.” It’s worth the risk to prevent further damage, he added.
Ferguson admits he was shocked by the postcard, but says learning who was behind it came as the bigger blow. “It’s one thing to throw mud; it’s another to attack someone’s character,” he said.
The personal nature of the allegations left him with no choice but to respond, Ferguson says of the letter he recently mailed to his constituents.
“I felt like I needed to answer the attack,” he said. “So I wrote the letter, then I threw it away, then I wrote it again.”
The positive response Ferguson has received from constituents regarding the final version, which refers to accomplishments during the last four years and assures voters of his commitment to them and their tax dollars, may hurt the PAC’s objectives.
“I wish I had 10 percent of the power they think I have,” Ferguson said. “There’s not a soul down there I can tell how to vote.”
If re-elected for the next term, Ferguson says he would harbor no grudges. “The people of Jonesborough didn’t send that postcard,” he said. “It wouldn’t affect my service in any way.”