|You ask any current or former county commissioner if they enjoy
making appointments to fill vacancies in elected offices, I guarantee
all of them would say, absolutely not.
Aside from the budget, political appointments are one of the toughest things commissioners have to do from time to time. Essentially, ten commissioners are making a decision usually reserved for all the voters in the county. That's a lot of responsibility. Unfortunately, that's part of the job.
Loudon County commissioners are set to make one of these appointments at Monday's commission meeting. (1/7/13) The appointment is to replace retired trustee, George Miller who left office at the end of the year. The county trustee position, I would argue, is the most important elected office in the county. The trustee is essentially the county's bank. Every penny that comes into and out of the county, goes through the trustee's office. That's better than sixty million dollars per year.
The vacancy in the office couldn't come at a more critical time. The trustee's office is responsible for collection of all county property taxes. With the deadline at the end of February for all of us to pay our taxes, the vast, vast majority of those taxes come into the trustee's office between the first of January and the end of February. For the next couple of months, the trustee's office will be the busiest place in the county.
The urgency to fill the vacancy is real. While the staff in the office are more than capable of handling the daily activities of the office, to be shorthanded during this critical time could create enormous problems. The office must be fully staffed at this time.
Of course, there's always politics involved. This is politics. Three names thus far have risen to potentially fill the vacancy. Loudon City councilman and former candidate for the office, Mike Cartwright, former candidate for the office, Sherri Colvrd and the former trustee's son, Chip Miller.
No matter who commissioners pick, if it's one of the above mentioned candidates or if it's someone else, some will cry foul and blame "good ol boy politics" but what else can commissioners do? It's really a no win situation. This is why commissioners don't like the appointment process.
Having been there and done that, I'm not about to tell commissioners who they should pick, that's up to them but I would say in this instance, speed is truly of the essence. Weigh the credentials, background and credibility of each of the candidates and go with person who each commissioner feels best qualified for the job and don't worry about what some might say.