Tag Archives: sullivan

Political Intrigue in Sullivan County?

Up in Sullivan County, Robert Houk sees some political intrigue involved in the firing of the veteran county election commissioner after she “called out” three election commissioners for a possible violation of the state’s “sunshine law.” Two Republican commissioners and one Democrat jointed in voting to fire Connie Sinks. One Democrat and one Republican voted against the dismissal.
And some area state legislators are mentioned.
The politics of the vote and the possible repercussions are indeed intriguing.
For instance, many are wondering what (if anything) was promised to Graham for his vote. Will his decision to join the two Republicans cost Graham his position on the board? I’ve heard scuttlebutt that there is a movement by some county Democrats to have him removed from the Election Commission.
Walter Buford, the new chairman of the Washington County Democratic Party, told me last week he would not even speculate on the Election Commission matter until he has all the facts.
“I’d rather not make any comments until I am aware of all the intricacies,” he said.
And what about the future of Willis and Ruetz on the board? There’s been a struggle inside the Washington County Republican Party in recent years between far-right forces aligned with state Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, and GOPers who are not. The reappointments of Willis, Ruetz and even Chinouth could be affected by which side prevails in this battle.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, said he had no inkling that Sinks was about to be fired and was surprised to learn of her dismissal. “I heard about it afterward when I got a call from Sue Chinouth,” Crowe said.
The senator said he and his legislative colleagues from Washington County (Hill and state Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough) had not planned to make any changes to their appointments to the Election Commission next year. Still, Crowe said he feels he has a duty to “find out what’s really going on” with the Election Commission.

New Locks for Ballot Boxes

Citing state law requiring “maximum security” for election machines and ballots — and “no direct knowledge” of just who all had keys — Administrator of Elections Jason Booher has changed the locks at the Sullivan County Election Office, reports the Kingsport Times-News.
Booher also has purchased all new padlocks for ballot boxes to be used beginning with the upcoming presidential preference party primaries.
… The cost of 100 padlocks, two sets of 50 each ($4.50 each) keyed differently, was $515.71. “When I checked with several other counties who have replaced locks I found that they had paid $11.98 per lock, after checking prices at various retailers we only paid $4.50 per lock, so we got an outstanding deal!”
The cost to have the door locks with copy proof keys was $289.00.

Sullivan & Unicoi Counties Oppose Change in Open Meetings Law

From Unicoi
ERWIN, Tenn. (AP) — The Unicoi County Commission has voted against supporting a proposal that would allow county business to be conducted in private.
The 7-1 vote on Monday comes a month after a unanimous vote to draw up a resolution supporting changes to the state’s Sunshine Law, according to the Johnson City Press (http://bit.ly/tRyKW4).
The law forbids two or more officials on a local legislative body, such as a county commission, from meeting privately to deliberate on public business.
The Tennessee County Commissioners Association is promoting a change to allow closed-door talks as long as a quorum is not present.
Unicoi Commissioner Doug Bowman brought the proposal last month. He said the county would be better served by discussing matters such as property purchases and prospective industries out of public view.

From Sullivan County:
BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Sullivan County commissioners decided Monday against a resolution that asked the General Assembly to loosen open meeting laws for county and city governments.
The commissioners approved the first reading of the ordinance last month. But according to the Bristol Herald Courier, several commissioners said Monday that people in the community opposed the idea (http://bit.ly/tefSXs). They said people were worried that the commissioners would meet behind closed doors.
The Tennessee County Commissioners Association has been pushing the effort. Commissioners in Williamson and Obion counties have approved similar resolutions. Rhea, Roane and Anderson commissioners voted against one.
The 37-year-old law, also known as “the sunshine law,” currently forbids two or more officials on a local legislative body, such as a county commission or city council, from meeting privately to deliberate on government matters.
The county commissioners group hopes to amend the law and allow members of government bodies to discuss public affairs in private, as long as the discussion involves less than a quorum. The law applies only to local governments. The General Assembly has enacted a statute allowing legislators to hold private discussions when there is less than a quorum of the body present.
Gov. Bill Haslam, former mayor of Knoxville, has said he opposes the change

TN Local-Level Political News Notes

No Caucus for Rutherford Democrats
At its quarterly meeting Saturday, the Rutherford County Democratic party and executive committee members voted unanimously to use a primary rather than caucuses to determine whose names will go on the county election ballot next fall for county road superintendent and assessor of property, according to a the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal.
“It does not surprise me that our Democrats prefer a primary. Our candidates will be selected in the light of day at the polls, not behind closed doors,” said Justin St. Clair, party chairman.
The decision comes after the Rutherford County Republican Party opted to choose candidates for the 2012 election by caucusing. Its executive committee voted 11-4 this summer to go with the caucuses, reflecting a trend that started last year.

Rogero Backed by Non-partisan PAC
A local nonpartisan political action committee, formed after the Knox County government scandals in 2007, has endorsed Madeline Rogero for Knoxville mayor and four candidates for City Council in the Sept. 27 nonpartisan city primary, reports Georgiana Vines.
The Public Trust PAC, co-chaired by former state Sen. Ben Atchley, a Republican, and ex-County Executive Tommy Schumpert, a Democrat, also endorsed John Stancil and George C. Wallace for Council at large, seat A; Marshall Stair, Council at large, seat B; and Finbarr Saunders, Council at large, seat C.
….Financial adviser David Moon, the group’s treasurer, said in response to questions that the only mayoral candidates interviewed were Rogero and Mark Padgett. All were invited to answer a questionnaire and be interviewed, he said. The group did not hear back from Ivan Harmon about an interview, got no response from Bo Bennett, and Joe Hultquist scheduled an interview and then canceled due to a conflict, Moon said

.Knoxville EV Turnout Light
As of Saturday, 2,421 people had cast ballots in early voting for Knoxville City elections
Clifford Rodge, according to the News Sentinel.
Clifford Rodgers, Knox County administrator of elections, said that although 191,000 people are eligible to vote, turnout is not expected to exceed 30,000 voters.
“What I have been told is that usually the first day of early voting is a good day, and then (turnout) drops off and then you have a strong finish on the last three days,” Rodgers said.
Early voting continues through Sept. 22
. (Election day is Sept. 27.)
Sullivan Debates Proper Political Boundaries
Under general state law, political candidates and their supporters are prohibited from coming within 100 feet of polling places during any voting period — early or on election day. A proposal up for a vote by the Sullivan County Commission seeks to ask the state to allow Sullivan County to quadruple that boundary to 400 feet during early voting, reports the Kingsport Times-News
Proponents say the move would keep voters from being forced to run what can often seem like a gantlet to cast their ballot. Supporters also say the proposal would improve parking for voters because those using spots for campaigning would be pushed back.
The parking issue would also make it less of an imposition on people using voting locations for other, everyday purposes during the voting period, according to the proposal.