Knoxville Democrat and clinical psychologist Joshua Williams is running for the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. John J. "Jimmy" Duncan Jr.

Williams said he decided to register as a candidate and launch his campaign more than a year ahead of the 2018 election so voters can get to know him.

"Constituents in the 2nd Congressional District have had 52 years to get to know Jimmy Duncan and his father, and I only have 15 months to introduce myself to the voters so I need all the time I can get," Williams said.

Duncan, a Republican, has held the 2nd Congressional District seat since 1988. His father, John Duncan Sr., held the seat from 1965 until his death in 1988.

Other potential candidates for Duncan's seat include Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. The mayor has not confirmed whether he will run for the seat.

Williams said he is running for Congress because we need "new blood in the system."

This is his first time running for elected office.

Williams said he has been seeing first-hand the effects of changes in the health care system through his work as a clinical psychologist.

"I see people living with great fear and apprehension about the changes the Senate and the Congress are about to enact. Tremendous loss of coverage in this area, which will devastate our community," he said.

Williams said Duncan has done "wonderful work," and his decision to seek the seat is not personal.

"It's simply a different perspective, a different outsider coming in saying 'maybe I can help out too,'" he said.

Williams said he hopes for "an engaged and lively debate" during the campaign.

"I hope that regardless of who runs in either party, that we elevate the discussion and that we engage the people in this community," he said.

The primary in the mid-term election is set for Aug. 2, 2018. The general election will be Nov. 6, 2018.