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Election musings for a hot and humid night

Larry French, Community Voices • Jul 1, 2018 at 8:30 AM

Here we are barely into summer and not only is the weather getting hotter, but political rhetoric is reaching a boiling point, too. With the Aug. 2 elections rapidly approaching, accusations, complaints, whining, stunts, finger pointing, character assassinations and backbiting have begun.

From a write-in hopeful in the Carter County mayor’s race to a “Don’t vote for me” candidate in Tennessee’s House of Representatives District 6 race, along with all the other unconventional political tomfoolery we’re forced to endure, yes, gentle readers, it’s election time in Tennessee.

Leon Humphrey, the outgoing Carter County mayor who was soundly defeated by Rusty Barnett in that county’s Republican primary election on May 1, has decided to defy the odds.

Humphrey, who had initially conceded defeat on election night, said he wouldn’t consider a write-in campaign. But, as politicians so frequently do, Humphrey changed his mind. He wanted a chance to defy the odds. “I have been bombarded daily by (unnamed) citizens,” Humphrey said, “requesting that I allow them the opportunity to vote for me during the (Aug. 2 election) as a write-in candidate.”

Humphrey’s wrong application of the word “bombarded” is rather idiosyncratic, especially since its definition is “one who’s being assaulted, attacked or blasted.”

The only “bombarding” Humphrey will feel is when those election results are tabulated and he’s “blasted” back to ordinary citizen status. So much for defying the odds.

The only advice one could offer Humphrey about his forthcoming and certain defeat; abide by the outcome, pack up your “political baggage” and leave the mayor’s job to someone more qualified and less apt to infuriate the masses of Carter County. However, please leave the gavel in the hands of a more even-tempered and amicable Barnett.

And, then there is Steve Darden, who at the last moment — and too late to have his name removed from the Aug. 2 ballot — has decided not to run against Rep. Micah Van Huss for the Tennessee House of Representatives District 6 seat.

Van Huss now faces independent Murphey Johnson and Democrat Justin Leslie in the Nov. 6 general election. While that will undoubtedly be an easy victory for Van Huss, it’s most unfortunate for voters. Darden was the only candidate capable of unseating a self-serving Van Huss.

There are also three other extremely important races that won’t be officially decided until Nov. 6, so make certain to choose your primary candidates for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives District 1 and Tennessee’s next governor wisely. The future of our country and state depends on this.

Locally, in my adopted county of Johnson, voters “will elect” a new sheriff and conceivably a new county mayor. Keeping his position as mayor is not a guarantee for incumbent Larry Potter. If voters think eight years is enough of Potter, then give the election to challenger Mike Taylor in a close upset victory.

Hopefully though, the crawfish politics association and good-ol-boy cronyism of the Johnson County Commission that’s kept progress stagnant for more than 50 years will be replaced with candidates who have a clearer vision for the future, rather than those who’ve walked around with blinders on and rubber stamped every issue that came up.

Of course, there’s the typical political boasting about Star LED creating 50 jobs and investing $1 million in the county over the next five years. While all this may sound encouraging, it remains an enigma as to why Parkdale Mills must continuously advertise for new employees.

Either people aren’t interested in factory jobs — which Star LED and Parkdale Mills are — or they simply don’t want to work because it’s easier to sit at home and live off the government.

There are, however, two major issues the County Commission needs to immediately address:

1. The additional $10 wheel tax commissioners voted unanimously to approve in 2012 must be repealed. Many county residents continue to ask how this excessive tax is distributed and by whose authority.

2. If ever a county needed an ordinance to maintain control in multiple areas, Johnson County does. Vacant houses and businesses in deplorable condition, an abandoned quarry, dogs and feral cats running at-large, rats, garbage, old appliances, toilets and rusted vehicles continue to devastate the land. It’s an embarrassment and eye-sore that should have been addressed years ago, but wasn’t.

Sadly, every time this subject is brought up I’m told, “You’re ‘of Butler’ and not ‘from Butler.’ Mind your own business.”

Yes, I am an outsider, but it makes me wonder what other outsiders see, too.

So, if you’re not satisfied with the tenor of current political conversations, then turn up the heat on your elected officials and demand answers.

And, get out and vote because the power belongs to the people.

Larry French lives in Butler. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and teaches composition and literature at East Tennessee State University. You may reach him at FRENCHL@etsu.edu

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