Knox County voters keep 14 incumbent commissioners in office

Knox County voters keep 14 incumbent commissioners in office

August 4, 2006

6 News Reporter

KNOX COUNTY (WATE) -- While the issue of term limits in Knox County is tied up in the state Supreme Court, Knox County voters went on to re-elect 14 incumbents. Nine of those incumbents have already served two or more terms.

6 News wanted to know, why the change of heart?

Political Analyst George Korda says it does not mean that voters have changed their minds about imposing term limits on elected officials.

"They may support term limits but the people who frequently vote are used to voting for certain incumbents."

Korda feels name recognition is how majority of Knox County incumbents held on their seats.

In fact, two term commissioner David Collins was the only incumbent who lost.

Collins says the defeat caught him off guard. "We did a lot of door to door knocking and I didn't catch on that people were dissatisfied with my service as a representative."

Korda feels several factors may have hurt Collins. One reason he cites is that voters living within Knoxville city limits are shifting towards voting for Democratic candidates.

The other, Korda says, is that Collins became the face of a lawsuit to help term limited candidates stay in office.

Collins was one of several commissioners who filed a lawsuit challenging the decision. Korda says he spoke out about the issue several times and that may have hurt him.

"David early on got out and tried to explain the reasons why the lawsuit was an initiated. That kind of made him the face of the lawsuit and tagged him even more firmly than he otherwise would've been," Korda says.

Democrat Mark Harmon feels he won the seat Collins held by educating voters about the need for term limits.

"If the top is always blocked by people who are there forever then you don't have that opportunity. That's the purpose of term limits and that's why it's a good idea," Harmon says.

He says now that's he's been elected, he has several issues on the top of his agenda.

They include addressing urban sprawl, questioning the need for impact fees in established neighborhoods, and pushing for a Farm to Schools Program, that would help farmers bring their produce into school cafeterias.

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