By Bonnie Davis Guy
Gwen Bell, President of the Johnson County Republican Women, along with the club’s members are hosting meet and greets for each Republican candidate who is running for the fourth Tennessee senate seat at their April, May, June, and July meetings. Per club bylaws, the group may not endorse any particular candidate; their position is to provide a forum for each candidate to introduce himself and his platform to the group and the county. April’s meeting was held at the old Sutherland home. The candidate and guest speaker at the luncheon was Neal Kerney.
Neal Kerney is a fourth generation resident of Sullivan County. In addition to his military service, he is a former small business owner. Kerney has worked for Alpha Natural Resources as a legislative agent overseeing the company’s coal interests at the Kentucky State Capital. For the last three years, Kerney has worked for an independent service provider for FEDEX ground and home delivery. His wife, Sandra Butler Kerney, is a former Johnson County resident. She and her sister still maintain the family home here in the county. Kerney is actively serving our country as an Army/ Tennessee National Guard reserve officer with 21 years of service. His current rank is major. He is, however, striving to reach the rank of lieutenant colonel. Kerney served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom during 2005 as well as a tour of duty in Afghanistan from 2007-2008 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. For many UT football fans, Kerney’s most memorable accomplishment was as a Tennessee football player from 1990-1994. As a walk on running back, Kerney was the last player to carry the football for Coach Johnny Majors in Neyland Stadium. “My senior year I had the distinct honor to be a teammate with true freshman Peyton Manning,” said Kerney. “I could tell at the time that this guy would go on to be the best quarterback to ever play football.”
Kerney states in no uncertain terms ”the voters of the fourth senatorial district have the right to make a choice for their next state senator.” He hopes this choice will not go the way of the established candidates but usher in a new generation of conservative leadership. According to Kerney, what separates him from the other candidates is he is not a career politician; in fact, he has never held political office. He has been involved with Republican politics for the last 12 years. In 2004, he was a candidate for state representative for the greater Kingsport area. He challenged a very popular democratic incumbent and although Kerney lost the election, he did carry some 42 percent of the votes. For the last seven years, Kerney has served on the Sullivan County Republican Party Executive Committee. For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.