Charter issues may have cost a Knox Co. commissioner his seat

Charter issues may have cost a Knox Co. commissioner his seat

August 3, 2006

6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- Nearly all the incumbent Knox County Commissioners running for re-election bested their opponents, except for a race in the Second District where issues with the charter may have made the difference.

Challenger Mark Harmon defeated incumbent David Collins by eight percent of the vote.

Collins was one of five incumbents who won a court decision to stay in the race by challenging the validity of the Knox County Charter.

The other commissioners who filed suit were Diane Jordan in the First District, Billy Tindell in the Second District, Phil Guthe in the Fourth District and John Griess in the Fifth District. They were all re-elected.

Their suit resulted in the ruling declaring the Knox County charter invalid. That lifted term limits, allowing them to remain on the ballot but called into question some local laws enacted over the last 16 years.

It also set off more legal arguments still not resolved by the state Supreme Court. The justices are scheduled hear oral arguments on September 6, if a series of deadlines is met.

The county along with Commissioner John Schmid asked the court to rule on whether the charter and its laws are valid.

If the court rules the charter is valid, that most likely means term limits apply and the makeup of commission could change again.

But if the court upholds Chancellor Weaver's ruling that the charter is invalid, the commissioners could remain in office.

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