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Seven seek seats on JC Commission

COREY SHOUN • Jan 18, 2007 at 9:30 AM

JOHNSON CITY - Seven candidates look to vie for three city commission seats in the April 24 city election following Thursday's noon deadline to file qualifying petitions.

Incumbents Ricky Mohon, Pete Paduch and Phil Roe will be joined by Roger Bryant and William H. "Bud" Hill Jr., who each launched unsuccessful commission bids in 2005, as well as newcomers Jeff Banyas and Marcy Walker.

Former Mayor Vance Cheek Jr. had picked up qualifying papers but told Washington County Election Commission officials Wednesday that he had decided not to enter the field.

Paduch, who will be seeking his fourth term, said he weighed the possibility of returning and was ultimately influenced by constituent sentiments.

"Having served three terms, you give it some thought," Paduch said. "I always feel like it's the voters' decision and they've overwhelmingly let me know I'm doing a good job."

Paduch said he plans to run on his record of the past 12 years and will continue to "look after those people in town who might not have the wherewithal to represent themselves." He said he would also continue to oppose tax increases and fight for more accountability for city administration.

Mohon will be seeking his third term, saying he hopes to continue to "bring a different dimension" to the commission.

"I think we need a City Commission with diversity and I bring that," Mohon said, adding that his practice of listening to the desires of city residents rather than always championing "growth and development at any cost, like some commissioners," sets him apart from the field.

For Roe, serving as the city's vice mayor, he said one full term has left him with the feeling of

"unfinished business."

"What I like is how we take public policy and see what the city's going to look like," Roe said.

"There is just so much going on that I'd like to see to fruition, like the projects we have going on that involve schools and roads."

As for his approach to campaigning, the 2006 1st Congressional District candidate said he won't rest on his time served.

"I'm going to run like I'm in last place," Roe said. "I'm going to work hard for the people's vote ... one of the things you learn from running for Congress is how to campaign."

Both Bryant and Hill said they will be able to devote more time to campaigning during this election season and will be sure to attend as many public forums as possible.

Bryant said he could provide "a leadership voice that's not confrontational" and help foster cooperation among commissioners.

"I decided to run again as soon as the last one was over," Bryant said. "I still think the city needs to head in a different direction ... it needs someone who can look at issues the way a normal person views things."

Hill said he also decided another run was in order almost immediately following the 2005 election that saw incumbent Steve Darden returned and Jane Myron installed on the board.

"I did some soul searching. ... I put in some forms to try to serve on some city committees but I never got appointed to anything so I said, ‘Here I go again, then,'" Hill said. "The issues that were there last time I ran, are still there. I would use a little common sense, not just play politics."

Banyas, who has served or currently is serving on several boards and committees, said he is excited about a run at the commission after deciding not to do so just short of the deadline two years ago.

"Being a hometown candidate, I've been able to witness firsthand the remarkable growth of Johnson City, and this has given me advantage points in seeing the big picture," Banyas said.

"I have a feel for the direction we need to grow."

Banyas said he has already begun campaigning and will take a door-to-door approach and meet as many people as possible.

Walker, a member of the city Board of Education, said she chose to allow others to seek the opportunity to pursue election to the school board. In addition, she feels her eight years on the school board would serve her well on the city's top panel.

"I think I can make a difference. My experience gives me a certain perspective," Walker said, adding that she believes the commission needs a true strategic plan for the future.

Walker also addressed the often contentious atmosphere that surrounds commission meetings.

"Everyone deserves to be treated with respect," Walker said. "I think we all need to play nice in the sandbox."

Likewise, Walker said she wants to run a positive campaign and be accessible to voters.

Roe, serving as the city's vice mayor, did not immediately return phone calls Thursday.

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