Unified? Two votes needed to appoint Hawkins commission chairman

Jeff Bobo • Sep 26, 2018 at 2:14 PM

ROGERSVILLE — If unification of the Hawkins County Commission is the goal, Monday’s two attempts to seat a commission chairman, and then a decisive vote to remove power from that chairman,  might be an indication that there’s a long way to go.

As previously reported, newly elected Hawkins County Mayor Jim Lee opted to forgo the chairmanship of the Hawkins County Commission, which meant the 21 member panel with 12 new members was tasked Monday with choosing a new chairman from among its own ranks.

Second-term Commissioner Mike Herrell was nominated by resolution, and third-term Commissioner Jeff Barrett was nominated from the floor.

It took two votes, but Herrell was chosen chairman, who by the commission rules approved in 1982 would then appoint the commission’s committees. As far back as anyone can remember, the chairman has always been the mayor.

Prior to approving its chairman, however, the commission voted 15-6 to place the power of appointing committees back in the hands of the county mayor instead of the chairman.

Those who voted no included Syble Vaughan-Trent, Barrett, Danny Alvis, Hannah Speaks, Glenda Davis and Larry Clonce.

There was also a motion by Speaks to give the chairman and mayor joint power to appoint the committees, which was defeated 9-12.

There was no winner in the first chairman vote. Herrell received 10 votes and Barrett nine, which meant neither had the required 11 votes, or a majority of the full body.

Two commissioners, Tom Kern and Nancy Barker, abstained in the first vote.

After the first inconclusive vote, Commissioner Dawson Fields made a motion to vote again, which was approved.

In the second vote, both Kern and Barker voted for Herrell, who won 13-8, assisted also by Commissioner Keith Gibson, who changed from Barrett to Herrell.

Prior to the vote, Herrell and Barrett were allowed up to three minutes to speak.

Barrett, who represents District 2 (Church Hill) touted his degree in banking and finance, as well as his completion of the CTAS County Commission program, and the fact that he is a certified public administrator. He said he has been on his local Chamber of Commerce board of directors for 10 years and president for two years as well as a volunteer firefighter.

During his time to speak, Herrell stated, “My goal for this commission is to bring us back together with honesty and give everybody on this commission the information they need to get through the next four years. The last four years we’ve been divided, and that’s the last thing I want us to do. That ain’t good for the county, it’s not good for the taxpayers and we’ve got to fix the budget.”

Commissioner John Metz was appointed chairman pro tem with no opposition by a vote of 18-1 (Speaks) with two abstentions (Vaughan-Trent and Davis).


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