JONESBOROUGH, TN (WJHL) – The presidential campaign isn’t the only race that’s turned nasty.
In Jonesborough the race for mayor has two sides in a fight for votes. There’s now a Political Action Committee involved led by the incumbent Mayor’s former political rival.
A newly formed PAC called “Citizens for Better Government in Washington County” disagrees with the handling of a practice burn by the Jonesborough Fire Department in 2014. Mayor Kelly Wolfe owned the building.
“This type of training is not at all uncommon its done all over the country,” Fire Chief Phil Fritts said.
“Tou don’t get a building that size in that good of condition that we could do that much training in,” Chief Fritts said.
Mayor Wolfe said he reached out to the fire department and said: “Hey if you guys need any training I think this might be a good structure for you.”
The PAC was formed Mid-October by a former political rival of the Mayor, Kent Harris.
In a recent flyer sent out to Jonesborough voters, the group claims Mayor Wolfe didn’t have to pay for the burn and used city tax payer dollars. Kent Harris is the co-chair.
“The mayor comes in and says I bought a building and I want it burnt down, what are they going to say, if they say no will they have a job? It’s definitely a conflict of interest,” Harris said.
Chief Fritts said there were tax payer dollar at work, something he viewed as an investment in his first responders.
“Your tax dollars were used for training but you got a good bang for your buck with those tax dollars but I think unfortunately what that implies is tax dollars were used as a favor and that was not true,” Chief Fritts said.
Mayor Wolfe insists there were no tax dollars used during the preparations or clean up, telling News Channel 11 he spent nearly $15,000 from his own pocket to cover the costs.
“I certainly didn’t use taxpayer dollars to haul off a house after it was burned down for training purposes by the fire department, that’s just a crazy claim,” Mayor Wolfe said.
With less than two weeks until the election, Harris said he will continue to voice the concerns of the community.
News Channel 11 reached out to mayoral candidate Charlie Moore to get his reaction to the flyer. He’s not yet responded to our request for comment.
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