Davis won't campaign, but remains on ballot

Living at hotel has helped him "improve efficiency"
Mar. 28, 2013 @ 11:03 PM

City Commission candidate Jess Davis says he will not be doing any campaigning for the office, but will serve if elected.

Davis, who is the chairman of anti-liquor campaign group Concerned Churches and Citizens of Pigeon Forge, placed a half-page ad in The Mountain Press on Feb. 27 that read, “If liquor goes in I’m out.” In the ad, he wrote that he would cease campaigning for office and “after 26 years of being in business in Pigeon Forge, we will pull up our stakes and retire, while at the same time taking care of our family and employees.”

Davis said he intended to have his name withdrawn from the ballot, but after the ad ran, he learned he could not do so. He won’t actively campaign, he said, but he will accept the seat on commission if elected.

“If by some miracle if I got elected when I’m not campaigning," he said, "how could I say no?

He owns property including a hotel and a restaurant in the city. He previously lived outside the city, but moved into one of his condominiums after he decided to run for the commission. He plans to stay there; he thinks it has helped him improve efficiency at his facility.

‘It’s turned out to be a good experience,” he said.

While his ad could be interpreted to mean he planned to move out of town if the liquor referendum passed, he said that wasn’t what he’d meant.

“That could mean a lot of different things,” he said. He said he hasn’t decided yet what actions he will take to honor the promise.

While Davis has recently become more prominent for leading the campaign against liquor by the drink, he acknowledged that in the past he owned bars and clubs around the campus of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

He said he was already a Christian but had fallen in with a bad crowd after going to college. A tragedy caused him to return to the church, and eventually to sell the bars and clubs and become an opponent of the sale of liquor, he said.

jfarrell@themountainpress.com