Knox Co. Commissioner Briggs hopes to make recall efforts easier

Knox Co. Commissioner Briggs hopes to make recall efforts easier


6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- "It is very, very difficult for ordinary citizens to recall someone under the current circumstances and I'm just trying to turn it back to the people and not leave it solely in the hands of the wealthy," says Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs.

Briggs also says it's nearly impossible to lead a successful recall effort without paying workers to gather signatures.

Currently, it takes signatures from 15 percent of registered voters to put a recall on the election ballot.

Consider the current effort to recall Knox County School Board Member Bill Phillips. Fifteen percent of registered voters in District 8 would be 4,020 signatures. Only 3,819 people voted in the election of Phillips.

Commissioner Briggs is proposing to change the number of signatures to 50 percent of the total votes in a given election.

However, others think that's too simple.

"Now two recall petitions are having trouble with the petition process, so let's change the rules of the game. It's a knee jerk reaction to something just because it is not easy and makes some people upset. I think it ought to be hard to recall somebody," says Commissioner Brad Anders.

He and others argue that recalls should be unique, not the norm.

Briggs disagrees that recalls would become much more common if the recall amendment is changed. 

"First of all, you have to wait at least one year before you can even circulate a petition. So if someone was just dissatisfied with the results of an election, he can't even circulate a petition for a year after the election," Briggs says.

The Knox County Finance Committee approved the ordinance so the matter will be debated by the full commission.

If commission puts the amendment on the ballot, voters would decide if they want the changes.

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