One of the interesting and fun things about being a candidate for office is the fact that people come to you and ask your opinion on things. Makes sense, I guess. I’m trying to be elected to the Legislative Branch of Knox County government. In the course of the campaign, I’ve had the opportunity to offer my opinion on issues of the day in a few places. I’ll share more about those when they come out. But, I find that if I’m writing an answer to some question that is asked of me, I have more to say about some things than the venue permits. So I’ve had to provide some shortened answers in those situations. But here at my campaign website, the space is unlimited. Therefore, I’m going to take some of these questions I’ve gotten, do some long form answers to them and put them on the ol’ campaign website. Enjoy.
It appears that the Knox County Charter Review Committee may be looking in 2020 at whether to make Knox County’s Law Director a position appointed by the Mayor. Under Section 3.08 of the Knox County Charter, the Law Director is elected to four year terms and is subject to the term limits that apply to all elected officials under the Charter. There are some, though, who want to make this a position appointed by the Knox County Mayor, rather than elected by the voters.
I support keeping the Law Director as an elected position. The Law Director, among other things, provides legal advice to County officials concerning their respective offices and litigates on behalf of the County in civil actions. If the Law Director becomes a position appointed by the Mayor, then he or she loses some independence to offer unvarnished legal advice to County officials and loses the accountability and connection he or she would otherwise have in being selected by the voters of Knox County.
If I am fortunate enough to be elected by the Knox County voters as District 4 Commissioner, I would oppose (and vote accordingly) any attempt to make the Law Director an appointed position. I hold the same opinion for attempts to change any other position, designated in the Charter as an elected position, to be appointed by the Knox County Mayor.
I have previously written about the TVA East Tower “purchase.” You can read about that here. I think that issue is the perfect example of why the Law Director should remain an elected position, rather than be appointed by the Mayor. It appears that the Law Director’s legal advice on this East Tower “purchase” issue has put him at odds with the Mayor. But, since the Law Director is ultimately accountable to the voters, he has the independence to offer his unvarnished legal advice on the matter even though he might anger or disappoint the Mayor. If the Law Director were appointed by the Mayor, he might not feel as free to take a legal position at odds with the Mayor’s wishes.