Former Johnson City mayor stops in Morristown, talks job creation

Steve Darden, candidate for Tennessee Congressional District 1, stops by the Noon Rotary Club this week.

Steve Darden, Republican candidate for Tennessee District 1, stopped by the Noon Rotary Club this week to catch up on the latest within the Lakeway Area and said its key to be in Morristown because it’s a job creator.

“Hamblen County is the hub of job creation and an economic powerhouse in the Lakeway area so it makes sense for me to be here as often as possible during the campaign”, Darden said.

Darden, former mayor and commissioner for Johnson City, said he is a Rotarion and “knows all about service above self.“

Darden is vying for the 1st Congressional District seat after U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, decided not to run for reelection earlier this year.

The primary is Aug. 6 and the Republican field is crowded with 14 other candidates.

Darden said he is running on the platform of experience as a mayor, commissioner and small businessman.

“I emphasize that with my long-term affiliation with Congressman Roe, having both been Mayors and serving together for six years on the Johnson City City Commission I offer continuity from his administration,” he said. “Congressman Roe and his staff are known for excellent constituent service, and I’ve seen up close and personal how hard they work. That will continue with me. I would also maintain a Morristown office.”

He said he is not a career politician.

“I occupy that sweet spot between the career politicians in the race and those with zero experience in office,” Darden said. “As a former mayor, I sincerely believe that I have the best background, personality, integrity and skills to lead our district and be an effective ambassador to the rest of the state, nation and world.”

Darden received his accounting and law degrees from the University of Tennessee where he was named a Torchbearer as a college senior. He is also a listed mediator and served as managing partner of Hunter, Smith & Davis, a leading east Tennessee law firm.

As Johnson City mayor, Darden said he helped revitalize the city’s downtown to offer a mix of entertainment, dining, retail and new businesses. He said he is a staunch believer in public education, including trades and technical training, and helped build a culture within the city of community policing. He fostered an environment for growth in tourism through the development of parks and the Tweetsie Trail, a rails to trails recreational project, which has kept taxes low and created new jobs.

Darden said he sees a lot of similarities between Morristown and Johnson City.

“Hamblen County and Washington County are alike in that both draw from the surrounding area to provide jobs,” he said. “I realize that Hamblen County’s population swells by about 15,000 people every day, who are coming here from Sevier, Grainger, Cocke, Hancock, and Jefferson Counties and beyond to work or further their education. My round tables with area manufacturers have shown me that there is a very strong commitment to providing jobs here, and the know-how to recruit more.”