Chip It Is

       George Miller            George (Chip) Miller

It was high drama at Monday's Loudon County commission meeting. The main agenda item for commissioners to address was the appointment of a new Trustee to fill the vacancy of the now former Trustee, George Miller.

With the county attorney in attendance to be sure, commissioners were careful to follow all appropriate procedures to fill a vacancy. Commissioner Bob Franke made a motion seconded by David Meers to postpone the vote to next month. Several other commissioners voiced concerns about postponing the vote due to the fact that this is the busiest time of the year in the office and they felt it was necessary to fill the vacancy as soon as possible. Franke's motion to postpone failed.  

Moving forward, there were four candidates nominated by commissioners for consideration for the job. Commissioner Brian Jenkins nominated Loudon City councilman, Mike Cartwright, Commissioner David Meers nominated Leo Bradshaw, Commissioner Roy Bledsoe nominated Sherri Colverd and Commissioner Steve Harrelson nominated Chip Miller. Former State Representative, Julia Hurley, nominated herself from the floor when floor nominations were opened, however no commissioner picked up her nomination to add her to the ballot.

The first vote had commissioner's Harrelson, Sharon Yarbrough, Harold Duff, Rosemary Quillen and Earlena Maples casting their vote for Miller. Jenkins voted for Cartwright, Meers and Franke voted for Bradshaw and Bledsoe voted for Colverd. Commissioner Don Miller was out of town. Since no candidate received the six votes for a majority,  the earlier procedure voted on by commissioners called for a vote among the two lowest vote getters. Colverd beat out Cartwright in the vote off to remain on the ballot.

With one candidate eliminated, a second vote was taken with the same five commissioners who voted for Miller in the first round casting their vote for Miller again. In this vote, Commissioner Brian Jenkins, who had supported Cartwright, also voted for Chip Miller giving him the necessary six vote to gain the majority. Bledsoe again voted for Colverd and Franke and Meers voted for Bradshaw.

Chip Miller, who is the son of now retired trustee George Miller, will assume the office immediately. The appointment will be till the next county election which will be May or August of 2014

As I've told you before, commissioners do not like making political appointments. Their in an an almost no win situation and would have received criticism from some no matter how they voted. But they did their job and filled the position. Let's move on.

Miller appointed to fill father's term as Loudon County trustee

Some question quick timing of decision

Hugh G. Willett

Despite an attempt to postpone the process, the Loudon County Commission on Monday appointed George M. "Chip" Miller II to serve as interim trustee following the resignation of his father, George M. Miller.

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.