Pair of petitions seek to change Knox County government

KNOXVILLE (WVLT) – An East Tennessee organization has some ideas for how to improve the Knox County government. They range from outlawing nepotism to shrinking the total number of commissioners from 19 to 11.

On Thursday night, the organization had voters sign a petition to turn those ideas into amendments which the public would vote on in November. A few hundred people signed their names at Sundown in the City, moving the organization closer to getting signatures from 15 percent of Knox County’s voters.

"It was a great crowd with great music,” said Gary Drinnen, who helped man the petition’s booth. “We had a big audience and we worked to try and collect signatures."

The Knox County Commission approved the petition forms earlier Thursday. There will be an orange petition and a white petition, with the controversial amendments showing up only on the orange petition.

One of those amendments adds a nepotism clause, which would try to stop the so-called “good ole boy” network of hiring relatives rather than the most qualified people.

"It just seems there's a “good ole boy” in government and I think the sooner we can stop that and get back to accountability in government, the better," said Eric Henry who signed the petition

Another hot topic on the orange petition is the idea of shrinking the county commission. The proposed amendment would allow every citizen to vote for 3 of 11 commissioners, one each from nine districts and two at large, rather than the current 2 of 19 for most voters now.

"The idea of shrinking the size of the commission is increasing the influence of the average voter," said Drinnen.

Not everyone was for the pair of petitions on Thursday night. Among them was Bryan Moneyhum, who stood beside the petition tables at Sundown and loudly voiced his opinion to passers-by.

"There might be some districts under represented in a very serious way,” he said.

If the petitions get about 40 thousand signatures, you could be voting on their amendments in November.

Through the first two hours of gathering signatures, volunteers had collected nearly 400 names.

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