Commissioners Offer Suggestions for Selecting Replacements

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Knoxville (WVLT) - On the political front, Knox County commissioners are working on a timeline for dealing with 12 vacancies in county government, after a Supreme Court ruling last week.

Some commissioners want voters to make the decisions, but that idea may not be as simple as it seems.

Where do we go from here?

That was the key question at two meetings of commissioners Tuesday.

A Supreme Court ruling leaves 12 government seats open.

One commissioner suggested having voters decide in a non-binding referendum.

Commissioners say they would then follow the will of the voters.

Commissioner Phil Guthe presented a similar idea.

He wants county commission to ask state lawmakers to allow for a special election in Knox County.

"I have no problem with pulling the trigger and appointing all these positions right now, but I think the people should have the right to say who represents them," says Commissioner Phil Guthe (R- Dist 4).

Commissioners say the problem with a special election is the law is very specific in giving commission the responsibility of filling the vacancies.

"Unless the state intervenes the voters aren't likely to have a voice in this," admits Commissioner Greg "Lumpy" Lambert (R- Dist. 6B).

"It puts us in a difficult spot. We are choosing someone for a district other than our own and I hope the folks in our district will understand.

Others commissioners want to see the outgoing officeholders pick their own replacements.

"I don't know what is good for West Knoxville, I don't know what is good for East Knoxville, but I do know what is good for South Knoxville and that is what I want to do," says Commissioner Paul Pinkston (R- Dist. 9).

Other commissioners say it doesn't have to be that specific, but agree the board should follow the court ruling.

The mayor is calling for a special session that he wants no sooner than 48 hours and no later than 15 days from now.

The next full commission meeting is on Monday.

All of the proposals made Tuesday will be brought up for full discussion at that meeting and put up for a vote.