ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Commission approved Mayor Jim Lee's committee appointments Monday morning, but not before some of the commissioners who were left off the most important committees expressed their displeasure.
There are nine main committees where most County Commission business is discussed and recommendations to the full commission are made. Those committees include Airport, Budget, Roads, Industrial, Public Buildings, Education, Personnel, Solid Waste and Public Safety.
There are several other committees that meet less frequently when specific business arises such as the Beer Board, Audit Committee, Delinquent Tax and Employee Health Insurance Committee. The Ethics Committee and E-911 Board are comprised of commissioners and non-commissioners as members.
Each of the main committees has seven members, with one member from each of the seven districts represented. But neither District 2 Commissioner Jeff Barrett nor District 4 Commissioner Hannah Speaks were appointed to any of those nine main committees.
Speaks reminded commissioners Monday that Lee said last month he would work with the new commissioners because he didn't know their qualifications.
"I'm a new commissioner, and maybe I'm the only one, but I can tell you that not the mayor, not the chair, not a single person asked me for my resume, no one asked me for my work history, no one asked me for my experience," Speaks told the commission. "So as these committees were appointed with that blind attitude, without having so much as a five minute conversation with each of us, then they're basically throwing a dart at the wall and hoping it sticks."
Speaks added, "I think that we all, during our campaign season, ran on change, that we wanted change. The people of Hawkins County wanted change. I feel like if we vote these committees in as they are, as stacked as they are, then we are doing a disservice to our constituents and to the taxpayers of Hawkins County."
"The most mundane committees"
Of the main nine committees, Commissioner Syble Vaughan-Trent was appointed to the Personnel Committee, Solid Waste Committee, Audit Committee and Delinquent Tax Committee — which Trent described as "the most mundane committees."
She noted, however, that with her education, her years of experience on the County Commission, 12 years of experience working for an airline and her current employment with the Kingsport City School System, she was probably the most qualified person on the commission.
"I do not feel we have been treated fairly, women especially," Trent said. "Glenda Davis is another well qualified and educated commissioner, and she was not treated fairly. Ms. Speaks was not. She has a degree in finance from the University of Tennessee."
Barrett added, "When you look at the way committees are disbursed and assigned, I see commissioners who are on six and seven committees, and then I see commissioners who are only on two or three committees. I do question the way and the manner that the committees were chosen."
Most frequently chosen commissioners
District 7 Commissioner/Chairman Mike Herrell made four of the main nine committees, including Budget, Industrial, Solid Waste and Public Safety, as well as Employee Health Insurance Committee and the E-911 Board.
District 6 Commissioner Rick Brewer made five of the main nine committees, including Budget, Public Buildings, Solid Waster, Roads, and Public Safety.
District 2 Commissioner Keith Gibson made five of the main nine committees, including Budget, Airport, Public Buildings, Road, and Education; as well as the Audit Committee and the Delinquent Tax Committee.
District 3 Commissioner Charlie Thacker made six of the nine main committees, including Budget, Industrial, Public Buildings, Solid Waste, Roads and Public Safety; as well as the Ethics Committee.
District 4 Commissioner Valerie Goins was appointed to five of the main nine committees, including Budget, Airport, Industrial, Public Buildings, and Education.
"A personal conflict of interest"
Speaks declined to accept a nomination to the Beer Board for what she described as "a personal conflict of interest", leaving her only on the Audit Committee and the Parks Committee.
Barrett, the only other commissioner omitted from the main nine committees, was appointed to the Beer Board, Parks Committee and Employee Health Insurance Committee.