Commission Will Appoint Term-Limit Replacements

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Knoxville (WVLT) - If you live in Knox County, you'll know by the middle of next week who our next sheriff is, and who'll be representing us on county commission. Monday, commissioners decided on a selection plan to fill the dozen term-limited positions.

Commissioners rejected a special election, choosing instead to make the appointments themselves next Wednesday in a specially-called meeting.

Volunteer TV's Gary Loe has more on how this process will work.

If potential replacements for those 12 term-limited positions haven't already done so, they now have a week to put in writing their intention to get on the Knox County payroll. Knox County commissioners will follow a Tennessee Supreme Court ruling instructing commissioners to appoint replacements. Those appointments will come in voting Wednesday, January 31st beginning at 9 a.m.

"If we appoint these people, it's over. We need to get these people in here. We've got an upcoming budget, and it's going to be tight for us," commissioner Paul Pinkston said.

Commissioners must appoint interim replacements for positions including sheriff, trustee, county clerk, register of deeds and 8 county commission seats. During nearly 3 hours of debate, 5 commissioners called for a special election, which would require special legislation by state legislators.

"The best consideration we can give the public is to let them vote on replacement candidates," commissioner John Griess said.

"I'm one of those who believes that the people should select these replacements, rather than the politicians," commissioner Mike Hammond said.

"It's not a full and open process unless the people get to vote," commissioner Phil Guthe said.

Critics say that would cost too much -- a half-million dollars to hold primary and general elections, and take too long -- swearing-in wouldn't happen until August.

"An election would be great. I just don't think we will have the time to do that," commission chairman Scott Moore said.

"We need to save this county every penny that we can," Pinkston said.

For now, Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale is withholding judgment on commission's decision to proceed without a public forum.

"But for people not to put their name forward and to show up here on the 31st to be appointed, I think that would be a broad violation of the public trust and something that's unacceptable to Knox Countians," Ragsdale said.

Knox County commissioner Mark Harmon says he'll host a public forum in his second district prior to the appointments. Commissioners want candidates to submit materials, which could include resumes with references or endorsements, cover letters, and photos by a Monday, January 29th cutoff.

By the way, once commission replacements are named, chairman Moore will re-align the committees.