Mayor Calls for Special Election

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale is asking county commissioners to un-do, what Tennessee's Supreme Court ruled that they, and only they could do: replace the term-limited twelve.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd has more on the call, so surprising, that some commissioners say they never saw coming.

The clock is now running for County Commission Chairman Scott Moore.

Moore has 15 days to call a special meeting, during which commissioners will vote for, or against a special resolution to ask Tennessee lawmakers to order a special election, even as a new sheriff and eight newly appointed commissioners are trying to understand a budget.

"There are some things that may be legal, but just not the right thing to do and we saw many examples of that at Wednesday's meeting," says Commissioner Mark Harmon.

Whether you see it as Democracy in Action, or backroom dealing at its worst, Knox County's Mayor claims the process, more than the those picked, has soured voters such that, "anything short of a Special Election, I don't think, will move us toward the healing we have to take place."

"I believe it's vital that we do it as quickly as possible," says Commissioner Mike Hammond.

Quickly, for Mayor Ragsdale, would be to schedule the special election in tandem with Knoxville's City elections set for this September and November.

The newly-elected Sheriff, County Clerk, Trustee, Register of Deeds and 8 County commissioners would then serve out the terms of the dozen folks they replaced until 2010.

"If additional costs are incurred, we'll work with the Community to raise the difference," says Ragsdale.

"Private money to make up the difference? That's interesting," Lee Tramel's appointment may have sparked the most controversy, A sheriff's administrator, the choice of neither commissioner in the Fourth District. "It seems the Mayor didn't get his way on appointments, so he's trying to do an end-round to do something else."

"I'm not going into individual cases," says Ragsdale.

But he is asking his newly-appointed Ethics Committee to look into whether county officials hiring of family members has created conflicts of interest.

Whether some officials have traded jobs for votes, or whether it's ethical for commissioners to hold jobs in other county departments, departments whose budget the commission controls.

"If it was a raise for Lee Tramel or something in the budget like that, I think I would be conflicted out then. But as an overall 50 million dollar plus budget, I don't think I'm conflicted a bit," says Tramel.

Commission Chairman Scott Moore didn't attend the mayor's announcement.

Commissioner Paul Pinkston says the mayor gave him no clue this was coming when they met Monday morning.

His concern, how much it'd cost.

Election Commission Director Greg Mackay got wind of it barely an hour before and at this point has no idea what a special election would cost, dovetailed with the city's or not.


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