County Commission interviews candidates for Knox County trustee

County Commission interviews candidates for Knox County trustee

Posted:
The search for the next trustee continued Monday with public interviews in front of commissioners. The search for the next trustee continued Monday with public interviews in front of commissioners.
"I just want to get an idea of what their mentality is seeking the office long term," Commissioner Sam McKenzie said. "I just want to get an idea of what their mentality is seeking the office long term," Commissioner Sam McKenzie said.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE  (WATE) – Knox County commissioners heard from candidates Monday night who want to fill in as Knox County trustee.

Earlier this month John Duncan III resigned as trustee and pleaded guilty to official misconduct.          

The plea stemmed from $60,000 in bonuses paid to Duncan and his workers for a continuing education program that hadn't been completed.

The search for the next trustee continued Monday with public interviews in front of commissioners.

There are 25 applicants. Thirteen did not show up for Monday's interview, but they are all still in the running.

The 12 that participated in the interviews range in experience and background, but all emphasized the desire to bring trust back to the trustee's office. 

"The reason I'm interested in this position is the trustee's office has had nothing but bad headlines in the last five years," said candidate Mike Manning during his interview.

Several of the candidates, including Manning, the former chief financial officer of The Rush, do not have experience in elected office. 

Candidate William Daniels is a business consultant, Eric Luttrell is a recent graduate of UT Law School, and Marion Pickle III is a leadership consultant for Knox County Schools.

Three applicants previously held the job or worked in the trustee's office.

Fred Sisk is a former trustee and current employee of the office. Craig Leuthold works for the property assessor's office and was a former county commissioner and trustee. William Curtis, a mortgage banker and trustee office employee, is also applying for the position.

Commissioner Mike Hammond asked those with experience in the trustee's office how they will ensure the same problems don't continue in the future.

Commissioner Sam McKenzie wanted to know whether the candidates planned to run for the office in 2014.

"As far as whether they're going to run again, I just want to get an idea of what their mentality is seeking the office long term," McKenzie said. "I don't care either way, but I want a genuine answer out of them."

Several of the candidates said they believe the office needs continuity. They expressed interest in running for the position, including candidate Mitch Hall, who's worked in the financial service industry for 17 years.

Others like Curtis, Manning and Sisk were among those only interested in the position for the short period until the election.

"Just to get a couple things out of the way, I am interested in this appointment as a caretaker only," Fred Sisk told County Commission.

Commissioner Ed Shouse is also among those applying for the office. Serving on the commission's investment committee, he is familiar with the office.

"I've managed people, I've managed money, and I've managed railroads," Shouse said to his fellow commissioners.

Several commissioners said the experience in elected office wasn't the sticking point. They were looking for experience with money and finance.

County commissioners will vote on an appointee next Monday. Each commissioner will get an opportunity to nominate a candidate if they choose. They will then vote.

For Commissioner McKenzie, the biggest thing to consider before the vote was each candidate's desire to regain the public trust.

"Putting it out there, just being transparent. Saying 'This is what I'm going to do and this is why I'm doing it,' explaining it fully," McKenzie said. "[Someone willing to] go the last mile to ensure people understand what the trustee is, where the money is being spent, that's what I expect out of them."

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