Knox County Charter Affects Sheriff Position

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Barely a day after Tennessee's Supreme Court upheld Knox County's charter, and term-limits the jockeying is underway to fill those dozen elected offices affected.

Volunteer TV's Gary Loe reports party leaders are especially focused on who will replace Sheriff Tim Hutchison.

Sheriff Tim Hutchison has held Knox County's top cop position the past 16 years on Friday, the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the county's charter, and its two term limits provision.

Hutchison will stay in office until county commissioners appoint a successor.

"How they go about filling all those is going to be very tough, I mean the horse trading will take your breath away, I think," says Jim Andrews.

Jim Andrews, a democratic party spokesman who ran for sheriff in 2002 and for chancellor in 2006, doesn't want newly appointed commissioners selecting the sheriff's successor.

Both democrats and republicans want County Commissioners to establish an orderly appointment process.

Brian Hornback, the Knox County republican chair, says a qualified republican should replace the sheriff, who won office on the GOP ticket.

"J.J. has worked within the department, he's worked close to the sheriff, and from all indications are he's a republican, as is Tom Spangler."

J.J. is Deputy Jimmy Jones, who ran for sheriff in 2002.

Andrews says party affiliation should not be a factor in the appointment.

"Whoever's the most qualified person to do that job, that's who they ought to pick," says Andrews.

Meantime, Hornback says Sheriff Hutchison's November opponent should not be considered, but former Knoxville Mayor Randy Tyree disagrees.

"My success in running the race that I did as a Democrat, I think that establishes an awful lot of credibility from a qualification standpoint and an interest standpoint." says Randy Tyree.

Both party spokesmen are confident Sheriff Hutchison will continue protecting and serving well in office, as the term limits transition unfolds.

Commissioners haven't set a timetable for name successors to term limited position.

But both parties expect them to act quickly.