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Sullivan Commission set to shrink, Board of Education projected to grow

J. H. Osborne • Jul 17, 2018 at 9:01 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — The 24-member Sullivan County Commission voted Monday, by a narrow margin, to reduce the governing body’s size to 18 members with the 2022 elections. The resolution also reduces the number of commissioner districts in the county from the current 11 to 9 in 2022.

Sponsored by Commissioner Bill Kilgore, the resolution was on first reading in April and had since been deferred and amended several times.To win approval Monday it need at least a simple majority (13) voting in favor. It got 14. Seven commissioners voted no: Mark Bowery; Darlene Calton; Larry Crawford; Mack Harr; Kit McGlothlin; Randy Morrell; and Eddie Williams. Another three were absent.

The full commission is elected every four years. Early voting is underway for this year’s county general election, which includes the commission. Election Day is Aug. 2, and new commissioners will enter office Sept. 1.

The overall concept endorsed by the commission’s action is much broader, as presented by Kilgore. In addition to calling for nine commission districts, with two commissioner each (a change from the current format which includes 11 districts with varying numbers of commissioners — from one to three), the resolution calls for increasing the number of county constables to 27 (three per district). And although not included in the resolution, the expectation is that the nine new commission districts will align with new Sullivan County Board of Education districts — with one Board of Education member per district. There currently are seven school board districts.

That would mean no split districts. Every voter in a district would get the same ballot when they go to the polls, to elect three constables, two commissioners and one school board member. That would simplify things at election time, easing up potential confusion due to the overlap that exists now between the 11 commission districts and seven school board districts.

Kilgore said actually switching to nine school board districts will require a special act after the current election.

And the actual redistricting will be left to a redistricting committee appointed by the commission after the 2020 census.

“We’re setting the numbers,” Commissioner Bryan Boyd said. “We’re not drawing the lines. We’re setting the policy.”

 

 

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