Since my last blog post on this subject, the County Commission has met in Committee, taking no action on the issue. Governor Bill Haslam has announced that the general election to fill the vacant District 14 State Senate seat will be held on Tuesday, March 13, with party primaries to be held on Thursday, Jan. 25. Early voting for the party primaries will be Jan. 5-20 at the election office, which is located in the basement of the county courthouse. Early voting for the general election will be Feb. 21 through March 8 at the election office.
Here is the T-G story on the meeting http://www.t-g.com/story/2463076.html
On Nov. 21 2017, in the 3rd floor courtroom, the Rules and Legislative Committee (composed of Commissioners Farrar [chair], Woodson, Barrett, Castleman and Patterson [who was absent] ) met at 5 pm and toward the end of the meeting, even though there was no item on the agenda, Commissioner Woodson, began the discussion stating he had given his word to an individual who was seeking to be appointed to have the conversation. Many people in the audience had opportunities to voice their opinion as well. Commissioner Billy King was adamant about the necessity to make an appointment, as were the individuals who are wanting the appointment, Chris White, Ben Craig, Greg Vick, and surprisingly Randy Carroll, who is running for County Mayor. I say surprisingly because in his statement about wanting the seat, he said he recognized it was a Republican seat and he would vote as a republican.... he ran for Mayor in 2014 in the DEMOCRATIC primary...
I asked the committee questions about the process for submitting nominations, about the number of votes required to be elected by the Commission, whether is was the standard 10 vote majority or something else. They diid not know even though the County Attorney was asked some of these questions during the full Commission meeting the previous Tuesday.
Commissioner Sanders made an awesome suggestion that the Commission be asked to vote whether or not an appointment should be made, prior to accepting any nominations.
For close to an hour, the discussions continued until Commissioner Woodson made a motion that the issue be sent to the Commission who would first hold a vote on whether or not to make an appointment, and if favorable, proceed with nominations. The initial vote would be cast and if no individual had a clear 10 vote majority, only the top two contenders would be voted on again with the expectation one would get a 10 vote majority. A caveat was added that this procedure to elect an interim Senator would be subject to verification that it complied with the law.
NO ONE seconded the motion and the issue died in committee. At the announcement there was no second and the issue was dead, Commissioner King got up and walked out of the room and did not return, even though he is the chairperson of the Courthouse and Property committee on which I sit.
Since this meeting, I have had others call me wanting to be appointed. I have had conversations with some people, not wanting to be appointed, but upset the committee chose not to act and at least allow the full commission an opportunity to vote. A couple of more people are upset that Bedford County will not have a County citizen as Senator.
I was quoted in the T-G article... "But county commissioner Chuck Heflin said that, after talking to the mayors of Lincoln and Moore counties, local Republican officials, and other citizens, he believes the commission should just leave the seat vacant. "They would rather us not appoint anyone," said Heflin. He said he was unable to reach the mayor of Rutherford County"... the T-G left out one of the individuals I said I spoke with was Jim Tracy, and the party officials were state, not local.
Also, all but one of the people asking for my vote have said they are NOT interested in running for the seat in the special election. One individual said if appointed, they intended to run to hold the seat.
This issue is not dead! By the rules of the Commission, any two Commissioners may add an item to the agenda 12 days before the scheduled Commission meeting. I fully expect that will happen and this issue will become a pretty hot topic on Dec 12th at our next Commission meeting.
Right now, I have not changed my mind about leaving the seat open and let the issue be determined in the special election. I have not promised anyone my support to be appointed, I have not publicly endorsed anyone who is running in the special election.
Let me hear from you on this!