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Senatorial candidates speak at Town Hall meeting in Mountain City

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Senatorial candidates (left to right) Jon Lundberg, Tony Shipley, Neal Kerney and John Paul Blevins discuss issues at a Town Hall meeting last week in Mountain City.

By Paula Walter

The Johnson County Welcome Center was the site of a town hall meeting held with the four candidates running for Tennessee state senator for the seat that will be vacated by Senator Ron Ramsey.  In March of this year, Lieutenant Governor Ramsey announced his plans to retire in order to spend more time with his grandchildren and family.  Each of the candidates vying for this position gave a brief introduction of themselves before a question and answer forum with the audience.
Jon Lundberg, a captain in the Navy Reserve, is running for Tennessee State Senate.  He is leaving his seat he held in the Tennessee House of Representatives for 10 years in order to run for Ramsey’s senate seat.  Johnson County is in district three, which also encompasses Sullivan and part of Carter counties. According to previous public statements, Lundberg has worked to allow job creation to flourish, balanced the state budget by cutting wasteful spending, defended the Second Amendment and religious liberties, as well as protecting Tennesseans from federal overreach, including ObamaCare, during his time in Tennessee’s House of Representatives,   “The federal government is trying to creep into every part of our lives,” he said.
Tony Shipley is a former state representative of the Tennessee House of Representatives for Sullivan County. He was born in Blountville, Tennessee.  He retired from the United States Air Force as a lieutenant colonel before moving back to Tennessee and teaching history and geography in Sullivan County schools.  “These are good guys,” he said, referring to the other three candidates at the town hall meeting.  “The federal government is out of control,” Shipley said.  In his brief five minute introduction, he shared he believes that ObamaCare is a bad public policy and America is at a crossroads.
“Johnson County is home to Sandra and I,” said Tennessee House of Representative candidate Neal Kerney.  He is the former detachment commander of the Trade and Mountain City National Guard from 1995 to 1998.  He spent the month of June on active duty with the National Guard. Kerney’s wife, Sandra, is a fifth generation Butler.  “We offer a new generation of conservative policy,” he said.  According to Kerney, 68 percent of the voters in Johnson, Carter and Sullivan counties cast their ballots for Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in the presidential primary election.  “Washington is broken,” he said.  According to Kerney, corruption is being swept under the rug.  “I want to fight at the state level and I want to listen to what constituents want.”
John Paul Blevins is also running for Tennessee House of Representatives. Blevins previously ran for Sullivan County sheriff.  He owns a gun shop, works at FedEx for 24 years and is also a reserve deputy for the sheriff’s department. “I have not accepted one dollar for my campaign, nor will I,” he said.  According to Blevins, he wants to be elected and serve for two years and then serve as Sullivan County sheriff.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.