Kingsport election adds four potential candidates

Matthew Lane • Feb 4, 2019 at 12:00 PM

KINGSPORT — The deadline to run in the upcoming city election is fast approaching. You have less than three weeks to pick up a petition, gather the necessary signatures and file the paperwork with the Sullivan County Election Commission.

Municipal elections in Kingsport, Bristol and Bluff City will take place on May 21. In Kingsport, four seats are up for grabs on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen — the ones currently held by Mayor John Clark, Vice-Mayor Mike McIntire, Alderman Joe Begley and Alderman Tommy Olterman.

Three seats on the Kingsport Board of Education are also on the ballot — the ones currently held by Todd Golden, Susan Lodal and Karen Reed-Wright.

Within the last two weeks, four new potential candidates have picked up petitions to run in the May election. As of Friday, none had filed their paperwork, though all indicated to the Times News that they do intend to run.


Dennis Mabb has picked up a petition to run for mayor, while Joe Cerone, Liv Detwiler and Jim Welch have picked up ones to run for a seat on the BOE. None of these potential candidates have run for office before.

Mabb has lived in Kingsport the past 15 years and is the owner of Waste Knot Solutions. Mabb said he’s running for office to try to make Kingsport a better and nicer place.

“There’s stuff going on in politics these days and the politicians we’ve had since (the last mayor) haven’t been any good, so I want to see if I can make some changes and give the people back some money that they’ve been charged for,” Mabb said.

Cerone, 65, is retired and is probably best known for managing political campaigns, which he said he’s done as a hobby since he was 16 years old.

“A friend of mine said they might not fill the ballot and I said that’s not good. I live in Colonial Heights and (that community) doesn’t have one person on the school board. We have a pretty significant population that lives in the city,” Cerone said. “I also think we need to take a look at spending. If we can save a nickel for the taxpayers, that’s something else I want to look at.”

Detwiler is a Spanish professor at East Tennessee State University and has lived in Kingsport since 2012. She and her husband moved to the Tri-Cities in 2011, when he was hired by Eastman. They have two young children. One will start kindergarten in the fall, and the other is 2 and a half.

“I grew up in public schools and I’m a high school teacher by trade. I miss the atmosphere of public schools and thought (serving on the BOE) would be a great way to be involved,” Detwiler said.

Welch spent 30 years as an educator in Kingsport City Schools and recently retired as the executive director of the Elizabeth R. Griffin Research Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on biosafety and biosecurity in fostering global health security.

“I’m excited about Kingsport City Schools and I’m interested in working with their strategy of being a globally competitive school system,” Welch said. “Several people have encouraged me to seek local public office and the (BOE) is the best fit for me by far.”

Candidates have until noon on Feb. 21 to file their petitions.

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