Chip Miller will fill the remainder of his father's term, which expires in 2014. George M. Miller, who served as Loudon County mayor from 1986 to 2006, was elected to the trustee's office in 2010.
"I promise I won't let you down," Chip Miller said shortly after the vote that confirmed his appointment.
Before the vote commissioners heard from supporters of Miller, including Ron Jordan, a pastor at First Baptist Church Lenoir City and former chairman of the Loudon County Chamber of Commerce. Jordan complimented Miller's service as current chairman of the chamber and urged the commission to act quickly on the appointment.
Whether or not there existed a sense of urgency to fill the office quickly became an issue. Although state law allows up to 120 days to appoint a new trustee, Monday's meeting was the earliest opportunity to make an appointment since Miller's resignation in December.
"There has to be a legitimate vetting process. You did not have time to speak with all the candidates," said Loudon County activist Pat Hunter.
Commissioner Bob Franke agreed that he didn't have time to fully evaluate all the candidates.
"I think we'd end up looking like Knox County did," he said, referring to the infamous "Black Wednesday"meeting in 2007 in which Knox County commissioners were found to have discussed appointments in advance of voting for replacements of term-limited members.
Commissioner David Meers seconded a motion by Franke that the panel have a workshop to discuss the appointment before selecting a candidate at its February meeting.
"We need to take some time and use some common sense," he said.
Commissioner Steve Harrelson said he thought it crucial that the commission make the decision Monday night.
"It's important to get someone in that office as soon as possible," he said.
Franke's motion failed 6-3 with Franke, Meers and Chairman Roy Bledsoe voting to postpone the appointment.
To be considered, each candidate required a sponsor on the commission.
Commissioner Brian Jenkins nominated Mike Cartwright of Loudon, who had run in the 2010 election for trustee and received more votes than any of the current candidates.
Meers nominated Leo Bradshaw, Loudon County's purchasing director; Harrelson nominated Miller; and Bledsoe nominated Sherry Colvard, an accountant.
Former state Rep Julia Hurley nominated herself but failed to secure a sponsor on the commission.
In the first round, Miller secured five votes, followed by two votes for Bradshaw and one each for Colvard and Cartwright. Cartwright was eliminated in the next round.
In the final vote, Miller secured the six votes necessary to win the appointment.