Loudon County GOP Shake-up
Zehner Out?

If you have been following the activities of the state legislators in Nashville, you have probably been reading about the changes coming to the state and local election commissions. Now that the balance of power in Nashville has gone to the republicans that in turn changes the balance of power with the state election commission. This in turns changes the balance of power with the local election commission.

For the first time in a long time republicans will control the balance of power in all election commissions. For Loudon County that means that our election commission will be seated with three republicans and two democrats giving the republicans a majority vote of the board. This in turn gives the republicans the majority vote to appoint the coordinator of elections. For Loudon County that process has taken it's first steps.

The appointment of the three election commissioners is the legal authority of State representative Jimmy Matlock. Matlock has asked the Loudon County Republican Party executive committee to submit those names. Thursday night the Loudon County executive committee met to vote on the members. The two current GOP election commission members, Kay Brooks from Greenback and Ken Brewster from Loudon were included in the list of nominations. After the eight voting members had cast their ballots, three new members were elected to the commission. Mary Sue Jordan, 5th district, Darlene Shrub 6th district and Earl Ammon 7th district were the three republicans chosen as the election commissioners. Neither incumbent commissioner was reelected. The democrat members of the commission are Betty Brown and Sue Jane Hartsook. GOP executive members include Tracy Littleton, Sarah Bledsoe, Ken Shockley, Estelle Heron, Jason Hatfield, Mike Cartwright, Kent Booher and Sean Giles.

It will now be up to the new election commissioners to decide if they want to appoint a new coordinator of elections. Dana Zehner, a democrat, is the current coordinator of elections. Zehner who was at the time chairman of the Loudon County Democratic Party, was appointed to the post after long time election commissioner Pat Ingram retired. Ingram had held the position for 27 years. Zehner took office April 1st 2004. The new board could choose to retain Zehner but the republican controlled state election commission can reject the appointment of a democrat.

Once certified, the coordinator of elections position pays nearly $58,000.00 per year plus benefits. Anyone interested in being considered for the job should contact the Loudon County Election Commission. One problem with the job is that in next state election in 2010 if the democrats regain the majority of the state legislature all the election commission positions could revert back to democrat control.

Partisan politics, you gotta love it.