Who Should Replace Term-Limited Commissioners?

By: Gary Loe
By: Gary Loe

Knoxville (WVLT) - Knox County citizens will know by the end of the month how county commissioners will select successors to a dozen term-limited positions.

Monday, Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale gave commission 15 days to hold a special meeting to develop a process for appointing replacements required after Friday's Supreme Court ruling.

But will those successors be from the same political parties?

There are mixed feelings on whether to maintain the status quo regarding party affiliation.

Some want the appointments of term-limited seats to go to the most qualified individuals, others say the successors should belong to the same party as the term-limited office holder.

The observance of Martin Luther King, Junior's birthday has government offices closed, but Knox County politicians worked anyway, appearing in the parade down MLK, Junior Avenue.

Walking side-by-side with Democratic Commissioner Diane Jordan, Republican Mayor Mike Ragsdale opposes a plan to ensure through appointments that neither political party increases its number of offices held.

"I think the best thing we should do is try and find the best possible people and if we do that, then our government will be very well served," says Mayor Ragsdale.

Conversely, term-limited First District Commissioner Jordan wants her seat to remain in Democratic Party hands.

"It's already just 4 Democrats and 15 Republicans, so I don't think that's a lot to ask," Commissioner Jordan.

But political campaign veteran Ann Dingus, who won last year's Republican Party nomination for the First District seat won by Commissioner Tank Strickland, wants commissioners to appoint her to Jordan's seat.

"I would like to be appointed to the seat because I believe that we do need another capable Afro-American woman there to be there," says Dingus.

While dingus favors maintaining a gender status quo, rather than a party affiliation one, a First District business owner sides with Commissioner Jordan.

"I just think it should be a Democrat, the reason why I say that is the people have chosen, and they chose a Democrat, so the Democrats should be able to have some influence on who sits in that seat," says business owner Stan Johnson.

Knox County Republican Party Chair Brian Hornbeck says neither his party nor the Democratic Party should attempt to use this appointment process for party building.

Hornbeck says seats held by Republicans should remain Republican, and Democratic-held seats should go to Democrats.


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