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Top Stories of 2016: Local election mirrors heat of national battle


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Election time in Jonesborough has always been a period of excitement and discussion.

This year, it got a little crazier.

Up for election in the 2016 Jonesborough Board Mayor and Aldermen race were incumbent Kelly Wolfe and challenger Charlie Moore for mayor; and incumbents Terry Countermine and Adam Dickson, as well as challenger Jerome Fitzgerald for two aldermen seats.

Both Moore and Fitzgerald had served in various town capacities in the past: Moore as an alderman for one term and Fitzgerald, a well-known local resident who served on the board for 16 years and wanted to return.

What started out as a fairly respectful confrontation at the Herald & Tribune-hosted public forum in October quickly escalated into what some may have considered an all-out brawl.

Name calling, attack ads, billboards, phone calls, anonymous fliers and more, mostly targeting Wolfe, flew fast and furious.

“I don’t like anybody using the term ‘negative’ if it’s factual,” Moore told the Herald & Tribune, stressing at the time that he was not responsible for much of the campaign material that was produced by former Unicoi Co. Sheriff Kent Harris and his newly created political action committee titled “Citizens for Better Government of Washington County”.

Still, he said, that didn’t mean he didn’t agree with it.

Wolfe, on the other hand,  said he was trying to keep the campaign positive, but couldn’t resist countering his opponent’s claims.

“It has certainly not been an enjoyable election as it pertains to the ugly and sometimes crazy attacks of Mr. Moore and his supporters have seen fit to make on both me and the town,” Wolfe said prior to election day.

In the end, the voters had the final word, putting Wolfe back in office for another two years with 1,275 votes to Moore’s 1,043.

Countermine and Fitzgerald carried the aldermen election, causing Dickson to bid farewell to the board, at least for the time being.

Fitzgerald was the big winner with 1,308 votes.

Countermine came in second with 1,134 of the votes in this three-man race for two aldermen spots.

Incumbent Adam Dickson came in at 26 votes shy of reelection with 1,108 votes.

Wolfe said it was time to look ahead.

“To dwell on this too much would not be productive,” he said. “And I think people largely rendered their verdict.”