Four Rumored for Jenkins’ Seat, So Far

Contributed by: Ann Hinch on 9/22/2006

Six weeks after beginning his third term as a Loudon County commissioner, Chuck Jenkins resigned that office and his job as public affairs coordinator for Bechtel Jacobs Company, LLC in Oak Ridge to be sworn in as the new county assessor.

Commission will pick his replacement Oct. 2, taking nominations of eligible residents in District 2 from its own members and the public that evening. That person will serve until August 2008.

Ron Woody of County Technical Advisory Service explained a candidate must garner majority support from all commissioners (five votes). If there are more than two candidates and none receive a majority, the one with the least votes is dropped and another poll taken.

Whether commissioners will take nominations from residents living outside District 2 remains to be seen. County Mayor Doyle Arp does not know if they can. "What I don't want people to think is that they don't have (that) right," if they do, he said.

Arp said Shirley Reno and Tony Williford spoke with him last week about being considered for the vacant seat. He's heard rumors Jim Shields and former Dist. 5 commissioner Van Shaver may be nominated.

Jenkins is the third Loudon County official to resign one office for another since early August. (Arp and Ninth District Attorney General Russell Johnson resigned as assessor and Dist. 21 state representative, respectively, to assume their newly-elected positions.)

Commission voted 5-4 Sept. 18 to appoint Jenkins over Jane Smith, an employee of the assessor's office who served as Arp's chief deputy. Asked if Smith will work for Jenkins, Arp said he does not know, but that she's had offers elsewhere.

"She's valuable," he said, explaining why she was his pick. "She has 17 years' experience."

Commissioners divided in their choices. Earlena Maples threw her support behind Smith, telling her, "You've worked your way up." She was joined by David Meers, Roy Bledsoe and Chris Park, newly-elected in District 5.

Bob Franke said the assessor also has to work with the public and possess management skills, and he believed Jenkins the better choice. Joining him were Don Miller, Nancy Marcus, Harold Duff and Wayne Gardin, also new in District 5.

Jenkins said being commissioner has given him "broad understanding" of how the county operates. "But just as important are my 18 consecutive years of managing public and governmental affairs departments, in which my primary role has been to create and manage programs linking government agencies and the public (my employers) serve," he added.

Commission unanimously selected local businessman Harry Wampler to fill Johnson's vacated representative seat until the Nov. 7 election between Ann Barker (D) and Jimmy Matlock (R). Though it is only for a few weeks and General Assembly is not in session, state law requires the position be filled at all times.