Citizens, Commissioners Discuss Recall Power

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) -- Californians did it, that’s how Arnold became the “Governator.”

Up until now though, Knox Countians have had no way to unseat poorly performing elected officials, mid-term.

But the botched term-limit appointments and open meetings lawsuit, are fueling a call for the power to recall.

Amending the county charter isn't easy.

Knox Countians have done it though, when they imposed term-limits.

But how would you make it fair?

“I didn't like how they did it, first of all, it's an embarrassment to Knox County,” said resident Lee Ann Myers. “Should voters have a right of recall? I think so, yes.”

Brian Paone is one of the driving forces behind a recall amendment for the county.

He say’s they are looking at two way to do it.

The first, a super-majority, two thirds of Knox County Commissioners, could put it on the ballot directly.

“In principle, I certainly support adding another check to our system of checks and balances,” said Commissioner Greg “Lumpy” Lambert.

But would it need seven votes out of the remaining 11 commissioners?

Or 13 votes of a somehow soon to be reconstituted 19 member body.

“If no progress by November, we're prepared to do it ourselves,” said Brian Paone.

Organizers would have little more than two and a half months, to get more than 37,000 Knox County voters to sign the petition onto next February's ballot.

Assuming they could and a recall amendment passes then they could exercising that right.

“I think it would be easy,” said Myers.

Some commissioners say it would be too easy.

As proposed, the recall could target any elected leader that had served at least six months.

“There should be maybe a year, 18 months after an election, so that you don't have disgruntled campaigners from a losing side, to try the recall provision to win what they couldn't win through the ballot box,” said Lambert.
Recallers would have to offer reasons for removal and somebody to replace the targeted official.

That is assuming they gathered enough voters signatures got them certified

Then there would be an election in 45 to 60 days.

“We feel our odds are pretty good,” said Paone, whose group is willing to compromise.

“I just have a problem with people in the 5th district, people in the 8th and 9th district’s voting to recall me when I don't represent them technically,” said County Commissioner Mike Hammond.

“If they're not doing their job and they're doing stuff under the table, you don't need them in there,” said Jerry Baird, a Knox County produce seller.

Still commissioner Hammond says the Knox County commissioners should talk about it.

Commissioners Lambert and Mark Harmon say they would sponsor a recall amendment, at least in principle.

Would it pass commission?

Only one commissioner, Paul Pinkston, has come out four-square against it.

The rest say they're undecided, based on how it's written.


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