Venable to challenge Godsey for Sullivan mayor in GOP primary

J. H. Osborne • Feb 15, 2014 at 11:58 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Richard Venable picked up the paperwork Friday to challenge Sullivan County Mayor Steve Godsey in the upcoming Republican primary.

Venable faces a deadline of noon on Feb. 20 to return and file the completed petition with the Sullivan County Election Commission.

Voters go to the polls for party primaries in May, and the county general election is in August.

Godsey is seeking the GOP nomination to run for a third term as county mayor, having first come to the office in 2006 — the year Venable chose not to run for re-election to the mayor’s office.

For the past seven years Venable has been at the helm of the countywide economic development organization NETWORKS — Sullivan Partnership, serving as president and CEO until the end of 2013. Since the new year, Venable has served in an advisory role to NETWORKS, while the organization undertakes a search for a successor.

Formed in 2004, NETWORKS is a countywide economic development organization that represents Kingsport, Bristol, Bluff City and Sullivan County. Since its creation, the organization has assisted new and existing businesses with creating several thousand direct and indirect jobs, in addition to acquiring and managing more than $8 million of industrial development property.

Venable was not the first to pick up papers to challenge Godsey for the Republican nomination — but his entry into the race on Friday was quickly followed by the apparent departure of others who had.

April Mumpower, who had filed to seek the GOP nomination for mayor just three days earlier, on Tuesday, withdrew her filing from the Election Commission Friday afternoon.

Former County Commissioner Mark Vance, who had picked up a mayoral petition weeks ago, announced through social media that he will be throwing all his support behind Venable’s run for the party nomination and ultimately Venable’s election to the county mayor’s office in August.

“I would appreciate your support in electing Richard,” Vance wrote in a social media post. “Richard is what Sullivan County needs. I am excited about the changes that will come after the next election.”

Vance also confirmed he had filed his petition Friday to seek the Republican nomination to run for Sullivan County Commission, District 2 (which he represented for several terms prior to 2010, when he challenged Godsey for the mayor’s office).

“Your help and support will be greatly appreciated,” Vance wrote. “I will be a strong voice for my constituents and will work to restore trust and integrity to Sullivan County.”

David Webb has filed to run for Sullivan County Mayor as an Independent.

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