Field set in Kingsport alderman race

Matthew Lane • Feb 15, 2007 at 10:24 AM

KINGSPORT - The field has been set for the upcoming city election, with two incumbents and four challengers vying for three seats on the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Elections will be held in Kingsport, Bristol and Bluff City on May 15. The deadline to file for these races was Thursday at noon.

The three alderman seats on the BMA up for grabs are those held by Vice Mayor Larry Munsey, Alderman Ken Marsh and Alderman Ken Maness. Maness, appointed to the BMA last year after the resignation of Hoyt Denton, will not be seeking re-election.

Munsey and Marsh, both of whom have served two terms on the BMA, will be seeking a third term on the board.

Marsh, who filed his petition on Tuesday, had been uncertain these past few months about whether or not he would seek re-election.

"I've been there for two terms, and it's a big time investment. My mother has recently died. I've an estate to settle and several businesses I'm working. There's just a limited about of time to do all the things that come along," Marsh said. "I have really struggled whether I could give this the degree of time and intensity I have in the past. I finally came to the conclusion that it's important to see things through."

Marsh released a statement on Tuesday about his decision to seek a third term, saying he made the decision after extensive thought and consultations.

"At this time we are in the best financial condition we have experienced in more than a dozen years," Marsh wrote. "One of my ongoing goals is to maintain this fiscal health and flexibility over the next four years."

The four challengers in this year's city election are Ray Cain, Bill Hillman, Richard Samples and Jantry Shupe.

Cain, 53, worked 22 years with Oakwood Markets and now works at Downtown Flowers. Cain was born in Kingsport and graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School in 1971. His wife works in the Kingsport Chancery Court office. Cain filed his petition Jan. 29.

Hillman, 55, has worked for Weyerhaeuser for 34 years and said he feels like he represents the average citizen in Kingsport. Hillman has said he would like to see Bays Mountain Park better promoted and that city employees should be paid more for their work.

Samples, 62, is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and served two tours of duty in Vietnam. Samples taught at a Georgia high school for seven years before returning to Kingsport. Now disabled, Samples serves as secretary of the veterans organization working with Kingsport Tomorrow to build a new veterans memorial for the Model City.

Shupe, a Kingsport native, manages Oak Hill Funerals and Cremations in Kingsport. Shupe serves on the board of directors for the Symphony of the Mountains, as a member of the Sullivan County Government Relations Council, and on the Kingsport Presidential Advisory Committee for Tusculum College.

This election marks the second time Shupe has vied for a seat on the BMA, the first being in 1993 when he received 1,764 votes, or 12 percent of the vote.

Shupe said he would take pride in supporting a BMA that has followed a path for a bright future.

"I certainly do not harbor every answer and every solution for the future. I will be open-minded, eager to listen, learn and honored to serve, while emerging as a catalyst for supporting progress for Kingsport's future," Shupe said. "I believe with all my heart the key to a vibrant work force, continuous economic development, enhanced quality of life for our families, a high quality of happiness for our seniors, would be inhibited if we neglect moving forward in our current direction."

Three people picked up petitions to run for alderman - Gary Mayes, Mike Harvey and Carl Hale - but chose not to submit them by the deadline on Thursday.

Mayes, director of the Sullivan County Regional Health Department and former Kingsport alderman, said family issues and work priorities are the reasons he chose not to run this year.

Mayes served one term on the BMA (2001 to 2005), but lost his re-election bid, coming in fourth place with 2,356 votes.

"With family issues and work priorities it's just not conducive for me to allocate the time to run an effective campaign. To have an effective campaign you have to give it 100 percent every hour that you can. It's just going to be difficult for me to do that right now," Mayes said. "I've had a strong desire to do it and would love to be able to serve on the board."

Harvey is a retired Eastman Chemical Co. employee, and his wife is the director of the Leadership Kingsport program.

Harvey said he just doesn't think running for alderman is the right thing for him to pursue at this time.

"I'm very happy with the direction the city is going, and I think the current BMA has done an outstanding job," Harvey said, adding that he is not ruling out a run in the future. "I think they have us on the right track, and they've got us going in the right direction, and my wish would be we could continue with this board for another four years."

Hale, 53, was born in Virginia and raised in Kingsport, graduating from Dobyns-Bennett High School, and lived in Morristown for many years. Hale has worked a variety of jobs over the years, including construction and factory work. He is now disabled.

Hale could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

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