Elect Or Appoint

For the second time in four years, Lenoir City officials are asking city voters to change the city's charter in a pretty major way. Two questions will be on the August 2nd election ballot for Lenoir City voters to decide.

The first will be asking city voters if they want to change the office of the Treasurer/Recorder from an elected position to an appointed position. If the voters opt to change the office to an appointed position, it will then be the city council who will choose the person who will fill the position rather than the voters. 

The second Charter change question on the ballot will be asking to extend the term of the mayor from two years to four years.

The position of city treasurer/recorder is essentially responsible for all financial activities of the city. The person who fills this position handles all the money coming into and out of city government. The treasurer/recorder position is arguably the most important job in city government business affairs.

The treasurer/recorder position has been in the news quit a lot over the last few years with the last two elected officials who held the position resigning prior to the end of their term citing  undue political pressures. Since the resignation of Bobby Johnson Jr. back in December, 2010, Jimmy Wilburn has filled the position after being appointed by city council.

Earlier this year, Lenoir City council voted to put the question to the voters whether to change the position from elected to appointed. Council members felt they could better choose the person who would fill the treasurer/recorder position. They argue that leaving the decision to the voters doesn't assure a qualified person would necessarily fill the position and that they, the council, are in a better position to pick a qualified person to fill the position.

It is a fact that there are no extra ordinary qualifications to seek the office of treasurer/recorder. Almost anyone can run for the position who meet the general requirements to seek office in Lenoir City. It is also a fact that someone with absolutely no qualifications for such an important job could be elected to the office.

It is a fact that six city councilmen could potentially, through interviews and qualification requirements, choose a highly qualified candidate to fill the important position. It is also a fact that six city councilmen could also install someone in the position that could then be manipulated or influenced by council since that person now works for council rather that the voters.

Just four years ago under the Matt Brookshire administration, voters overwhelmingly rejected  the idea of an appointed treasurer/recorder by an 80% margin, 727 Against to 178 For. Obviously at that time the voters did not trust their elected officials to handle the appointment.   

Currently, it appears that many if not most city voters trust or are at least comfortable with their councilmen and may well trust their judgment in choosing a treasurer/recorder but will this always be the case? If the Charter is changed to make the position appointed rather than elected, it would be very difficult to ever change it back. Council elections come around every two years. So in two, four or six years there could be a lot of turnover on the city council. Will voters always have confidence that council would choose the best person for the job?

As to the second question, should the mayor's term be extended from two years to four years, former mayors Charles Eblen and Matt Brookshire tried to get this done but failed. Brookshire missed getting his term extended back in 2004 by just ten votes.

The down side for an elected Lenoir City mayor with a two year term is that they are forced to be in campaign mode all the time. A four year term would give the candidate a little breathing room to press an agenda, good or bad.  A two year term for the mayor assures Lenoir City residents that if they get a real lemon for a mayor they would only have to wait two years to make a change.  

Lenoir City voters are faced with some very important questions in the upcoming election. They should do their research and decide what they feel would be in the best interest of the city and it's residents before casting their vote.

Below are the two questions as they will appear on the ballot. Voters will be asked to vote "For The Amendment" or Against The Amendment."

Question 1

Shall Amendment 1 to the Charter of the City of Lenoir City, Tennessee, proposed in Section 1 of Ordinance No. 2012-3-26-1967-C which changes the position of City Recorder/Treasurer from a popularly elected position with a four-year term to a position consisting of a qualified City Recorder/Treasurer serving at the pleasure of the City Council be approved?

Question 2

Shall Amendment 2 to the Charter of the City of Lenoir City, Tennessee, proposed in Section 2 of Ordinance No. 2012-3-26-1967-C which changes the Office of Mayor from a two-year term of office to a four-year term of office, beginning November 6, 2012, be approved?