Gerald Sensabaugh, Richard Venable set for six month campaign battle in Sullivan County

Richard Venable and Gerald Sensabaugh are running for Sullivan County mayor.

Richard Venable is a veteran of the political world, with nearly four decades of experience.

"My cousin was a congressman so it was a natural progression," Mayor Venable says.

He's hoping to be re-elected as Sullivan County mayor for a third term this summer, but former NFL football player Gerald Sensabaugh is standing in his way.

"If the community wants change, I'll be there to help that," Sensabaugh says.

The former David Crockett football coach says the change he wants most is improvements in education.

"I want to develop a community of free thinkers that can think freely and ask the right questions," he says. "Do it respectfully, do it with facts, but we should question everything."

Education is a high priority for the incumbent mayor too, as the county prepares to combine three high schools into one.

"It's important in the efficiency of the program that we do it for the least money possible, but we get the best product possible," Mayor Venable says.

He says a change in leadership this late in the process could set everything back.

"You can't change horses in the middle of the stream and expect to have that continuity and efficiency that you get with it," Mayor Venable explains.

However, Sensabaugh says change isn't always a bad thing.

"I want to represent the people, the ones who speak out, the ones that want change," Sensabaugh says. "I'm here to represent you."

There was a third candidate on the ballot but the county's Administrator of Elections disqualified Kelly Brook Frye earlier this week after she was convicted of a felony false report charge.

Election day is August 2. The position of Sullivan County mayor comes with a roughly $116,000 salary.

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