Forum Allows Public Input on County Commission Appointments

Knoxville (WVLT) -- On Saturday morning some Knox County residents got the chance to hear from potential replacement for the term limited county commissioners and officials.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford talked with residents speaking out at the forum on Saturday. The reason for the forums is to give them a voice, one they won't have on Wednesday when 12 appointments will replace their elected officials. The event was held in the Cedar Bluff Library which quickly was quickly transformed from a sanctuary of silence into a standing room only affair. It was put on by Fifth District Commissioners Craig Leuthold and Mike Hammond who decided to host the event so that citizens could meet the potential candidates that will replace fellow district commissioner John Griess.

"We were afraid we were going to run out of room because the response was so overwhelming," said Hammond. "Some of the people I had not met before. I wanted to hear what their vision is for the 5th District and for Knox County.

Dozens of voters heard from some of the commissioners who will be voting on the appointments. They also listened to the potential appointments, twenty of them to be exact who spoke on behalf of several districts, the registrar of deeds, county clerk, trustee, and the Sheriff.

"I think they were splendid," said one person in attendance.

"I think we have some well-qualified candidates and I think it'll be a hard decision," said another.

"It's a monumental process and it's going to have a monumental affect," remarked former Knoxville Mayor Randy Tyree who is making a run at Sheriff. According to Tyree, leaving the appointments up to the county commissioners is leaving voters out in the cold.

"I would've preferred a special election to be called," he said.

Residents were armed with questions and concerns at the forum, and overall they seemed very guarded about the whole process just hoping that the commission will do things correctly.

Among those residents was D.H. Andrews, said he was afraid that back room politics might keep citizens in the dark and out of control.

"You obviously are in a unique situation," he said addressing Hammond. "I have a passion for open and accountable government, and there's some concern that we citizens don't know how our individual commissioners vote on individual issues."

"I have not made up my mind on any position," Hammond remarked. "I have committed to no one.

Those who do receive appointments on Wednesday will serve their positions in the interim, staying in office until February 13th of next year.

A second public candidate forum is scheduled for Monday at 6 PM in the auditorium of Whittle Springs Middle School.