Freeman decides not to challenge Kingsport mayor

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

KINGSPORT - Mayor Dennis Phillips almost had a challenger in the upcoming city election, but the would-be candidate chose not to run, citing time constraints as the reason.

Sullivan County Election Commission officials said they drafted a petition for Kingsport architect Mark Freeman, but no one picked it up. Kingsport mayoral and alderman candidates had until noon Thursday to return their respective petitions with 25 signatures in order to be eligible to run in the May 15 city election.

Freeman is chairman of the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority board, president-elect of the Downtown Kingsport Association and president of the Rotary Club this year.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Freeman said he had considered running but changed his mind due to time constraints.

"I don't think I'm going to have time. I think that's going to be the problem. I had looked at it, but I don't see how I can at this point, and it's really a time issue," Freeman said. "There's just so much going on, I got to looking at it. I've just got too much to do right now to commit that kind of time. Maybe next time."

Freeman said what prompted him to consider challenging Phillips was wanting to be involved in the many projects taking place in Kingsport.

"There are a lot of opportunities I think for the city and lot of other opportunities that are out there that someone with my level of experience ... I think there are a lot of things I could have brought to the table," Freeman said. "I'm just absolutely hammered right now, and other things are coming up that will probably be issues."

Freeman said running for alderman may have been a better step, adding that many people were trying to talk him into running for mayor. Freeman said he is not ruling out a run for mayor in the future.

"I think it's something I'll look at. I was more looking at two years out anyway," Freeman said.

Phillips said it was his understanding that Freeman was being pushed by the DKA to run for mayor.

"That's what I heard," Phillips said. "I don't know (why). I have no idea. That's just what I heard."

Phillips said he would like to think the reason why he does not have any competition is because the public thinks he's doing a good job.

"If that's the reason why I don't have competition, I'm thrilled," Phillips said. "But I'm a firm believer that everyone has the right to run for public office. I do hope that the public is pleased with the job I'm doing, and two years is a very short time to accomplish anything in the political world.

"I would like to have another two years to continue what we've started."

DKA Director Lisa Childress said she only heard one thing mentioned about Freeman running for mayor.

"And that was just in general conversations that he might think about running," Childress said. "I don't know anyone pushing anyone to run."

And as far as she knows, Childress said there are no problems between the DKA and Phillips.

"We're just trying to keep making downtown better and working toward redevelopment and the events that we do," Childress said. "From what I know, the DKA and the mayor work well together. We don't have any issues."

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