Watch now: Sullivan County mayoral candidates discuss animal shelters and regionalism at forum | Business

KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Chamber hosted the four Sullivan County mayoral candidates at a forum on Thursday.

Due to the format, it is difficult to compare how two answered most questions, as not all candidates answered the same questions.

The House provided the candidates with the probing questions (it sometimes seemed like it took emcee Josh Smith longer to read the question the candidates received to answer them) last week.

But the candidates did not know what questions they would be asked. When everyone had a turn, everyone drew a number from a bowl and Smith asked that candidate to answer the question corresponding to that number.

According to the timing of a Times News video of the event, one question took 45 seconds to ask – and the contestant had one minute to respond.

The forum included the two candidates who faced off in the Republican Party primary on May 3 (County Commissioner Angie Stanley and incumbent Mayor Richard Venable), as well as the two independent candidates that voters won’t see on a ballot. vote. until August (Val George and Bobby Weaver).

Some of the most telling moments came when Smith left the script and asked the four contestants to weigh in or expand on a few topics.

An example: Should Petworks and the Sullivan County Animal Shelter be merged?

When Smith asked to raise the hand of those who thought the two nonprofits should be merged, George and Weaver raised their hands, Stanley raised his hand halfway and said she would be willing to discuss it, and Venable kept his hand down.

Smith asked Venable if he was in favor of keeping both open and Venable indicated he was. A brief discussion continued as Smith offered the other three to comment after Venable said the county’s current budget proposal includes an amendment to provide $160,000 in funding to Petworks (he also noted that the county had paid $75,000 for the cost of the land where Petworks was built).

Prior to Venable’s comments, much had been said about the “double taxation” of the townspeople.

Stanley pointed out that the county mayor does not have the power to simply say that the two organizations will merge, and that decision is up to the two shelters, which are nonprofit organizations with boards of directors.

George said he would favor keeping both open because geographically county residents are better served by having the two shelters in different areas of the county, which makes it more convenient.

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Smith also asked everyone to weigh in on Wednesday’s announcement about an effort to promote regionalism in economic development efforts.

George, Stanley and Venable said they support the effort to varying degrees. Stanley complained that she and other county commissioners were not sufficiently included in the planning that has gotten the effort so far. Venable said several meetings have taken place, beginning with a joint meeting of the Sullivan County Commission and the Washington County Commission at the airport more than two years ago. Venable said county commissioners were invited to attend various subsequent meetings and some did.

Finally, Venable said Wednesday’s announcement was the first time there was something for all the local governing bodies involved to solicit feedback and give updates on what the newly appointed leaders of the effort plan to continue.

Early voting for the party’s May 3 primaries began in Blountville on Wednesday and expands to satellite sites in Kingsport and Bristol on April 21.

Independents do not participate at the primary level.

No candidate filed for the Democratic Party primary for mayor of the county.

Voters will elect Stanley or Venable to become the GOP candidate for mayor of Sullivan County. The winner will face George and Weaver in the county’s general election in August.

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