How new Knox Co. appointment process would work

How new Knox Co. appointment process would work

August 21, 2007

By HARLOW SUMERFORD
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- If Knox County Commission re-does the appointment process for 12 term-limited officeholders, here's how it will work.

Knox County Law Director John Owings will present a plan for the new process to County Commission on Monday, August 27.

It will affect eight county commissioners and four constitutional officers who were appointed during the original process, done by commission in January.  

The eight commissioners who were appointed are: Josh Jordan, Charles Bolus, Richard Cate, Lee Tramel, Frank Leuthold, Sharon Cawood, Jack Huddleston and Tim Greene.

A new appointment process would also affect: Sheriff J.J. Jones, County Clerk Billy Tindell, Register of Deeds Sherry Witt and County Trustee Fred Sisk.

First, and possibly the most difficult step of the new process, will be convincing all 12 people in those positions to resign. They would all resign on a certain date.

Next, the eight former commissioners would be brought back in office to re-appoint candidates for those 12 positions.

Owings says for a re-do to happen, both sides will have to come to an agreement. But a Knox County chancellor will have the final say.

If commission votes to re-do the appointment process, the earliest it could happen is September 7.

6 News asked two former Knox County commissioners, John Schmid and Billy Tindell, what they think about the latest developments. Neither is thrilled with the idea of starting from scratch.

"It is an attempt by the commission to wash away the stink of that January appointment. They may address the legal issue and the need for a trial. But if any of the current commissioners think this is somehow going to make things right, they are sadly mistaken," Schmid says. 

"You might not like them personally or don't think they should be in there, but they are capable people. I'm doing my job here. The sheriff is doing his job and the others. Let it go until January, then everybody will be happy. the public will choose," Tindell says. 

For now, county officials need to proceed as if the re-do won't happen.

If the re-do doesn't happen, a lawsuit by the Knoxville News Sentinel claiming commissioners violated the state Sunshine Law during the appointment process is due to go to trial on September 11.

The state Supreme Court has said replacements for term-limited officeholders must be appointed by County Commission, rather than being chosen in a special election.

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