New Hawkins Mayor Lee forgoes chairmanship of county commission

Jeff Bobo • Sep 12, 2018 at 6:00 PM

ROGERSVILLE — With less than two weeks in office, new Hawkins County Mayor Jim Lee has already made some big decisions, including hiring former Clerk of Courts Sarah Davis to replace longtime county Buildings Manager Alana Roberts.

Lee has also made sweeping changes to the makeup of the Hawkins County E-911 Board and is in the process of completing his county commission committee appointments.

But the biggest decision he’s made so far might be to forgo acceptance of the chairmanship of the Hawkins County Commission, a duty which traditionally been assumed by the county mayor.

Lee told the Times News Tuesday he looks at the duties and relationship of the non-chairman county mayor with the county commission as being similar to the governor’s relationship with the General Assembly.

“It gives him (the governor) the right to veto, and like the governor can veto the General Assembly’s decisions, I can veto the county commission’s decisions, like if they approve a tax that’s not good for the county or anything like that,” Lee said.

However, Lee said he doesn’t foresee that being necessary with this commission.

He added, “I wouldn’t call it a power. It’s just a different way of doing things. It’s just like the Hamblen County mayor. He does the same thing and it works out really good for him down there too. ... The only thing you lose is a tiebreaker (vote). I can’t do a tiebreaker (on a commission vote).”

The non-chair county mayor has the power, within ten days of receiving a resolution, to approve the resolution by signing it, to veto the resolution, or to allow the resolution to become effective without his or her signature.

As when the Governor vetoes an action of the General Assembly, the county mayor must return a vetoed resolution to the county commission with reasons for the veto. The county commission may then override the county mayor’s veto by a majority vote at its next regular meeting or within 20 days, whichever is later.

In light of Lee’s decision to forgo the chairmanship, newly elected Commissioner Mark DeWitte has submitted a resolution for the Sept. 27 commission meeting nominating Mike Herrell to serve as chairman.

DeWitte has also submitted a resolution nominating John Metz to serve as chairman pro tem (vice chairman).

As for Lee’s committee appointments, they’re not on the agenda for the Sept. 27 meeting, but the new mayor said he’s “getting pretty close.”

Lee said he anticipates holding a special called meeting for the commission to ratify his appointments in time for them to begin meeting in October.

“That’s more of a job than I realized,” he said. “That’s 21 people you’ve got to put in the right places. You try to do what’s best for the county, and (appoint) people are qualified in certain areas. ... I want to surround myself with people who are smarter than me.”

One item that is on the Sept. 27 agenda, however, is approval of Lee’s appointments to the Hawkins County E-911 Board.

Among those appointees are: Lynn Campbell, from the Hawkins County Rescue Squad; Mike Herrell, from the county commission; Ken Lunsford Sr., from the Mount Carmel Police Department; David Good, from the Tennessee Highway Patrol; Mark Linkous, as the at-large citizen; Doug Nelson, from the Rogersville Police Department; Tony Fugate, from the Goshen Valley Volunteer Fire Department; Sheriff Ronnie Lawson; and Mayor Jim Lee.