Ear to the Ground: Conventional Wisdom

Conventional Wisdom

The Republicans and the Democrats are holding conventions this month to select candidates for Criminal Court Clerk—at least. Some of what happens at the convention will be influenced by what happens today.

Losers today who need a job will be paying close attention.

For instance, if Sessions Judge Bob McGee should win his race for Criminal Court Judge, his post will be vacant, a plum that will spark a lot of interest in the convention process. Defeated Law Director John Owings needs a job. What if Randy Tyree doesn't win the sheriff's race?

Criminal Court Clerk is a plum, not subject to term limits, and would ordinarily be a much sought-after job. It isn't likely other candidates would stand aside and allow Joy McCrosky to get the Republican nomination. McCrosky had been deputy to the late Criminal Court Clerk Martha Phillips and is filling the post now. She seems to have the inside track among Republicans because candidates who lost last February and candidates from County Commission who would like the job are afraid to come forward. Given the current political climate they are afraid to put their names on the November ballot, which benefits McCrosky. They may be hoping to challenge her for the seat in 2010.

Other Democrats may emerge, but former County Chair Don Daugherty has declared his intention to seek the job.

Should a Sessions judgeship come open, several candidates are expected to jump in. Popular Democratic Party leader and radio and television commentator Dennis Francis is being encouraged to come forward, either for the clerk's job or for Sessions Judge should it come open.

The Republicans will gather on Saturday, Aug. 16, at West High School, at 10 a.m. and the Democrats will meet on Tuesday, Aug. 19 in the main assembly room at the City County building, at 6:30 p.m.

Things Picked Up

The new online forum for Knox County Commission started in mid-July as a rather ho-hum affair, devoted to welcomes, ribbon cuttings, the Karns Fair, and a request for rescue squad funds. It was a place to offer sympathies and a resolution to honor the victims and heroes at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church shooting.

But it has picked up of late. The report of arsenic in a resident well near the Solway green waste facility prompted calls for a re-examination of the just-awarded contract to National Resource Recovery, and then Commissioner Paul Pinkston weighed in with a plan to ask for County Mayor Mike Ragsdale's removal from office.

Woman Power

Should Sherry Witt win the race for Register of Deeds she would be the first woman to ever win one of the so-called fee offices in Knox County government. The constitutional offices have been held by men—and often the same men—for years on end. Voters haven't had a problem voting for women over in the court system, however. The late Martha Phillips, Lillian Bean, and Cathy Quist have held court clerk jobs in recent years. The late Mildred Doyle was a long-serving school superintendent. But the constitutional offices have been a male preserve.

Knox County Commission has had interim women commissioners since February in Elaine Davis and Victoria DeFreese. Whether commission in the future will have any women serving depends on the election of candidates Amy Broyles, Kathy Bryant, and Ruthie Kuhlman. Term limits removed long-serving commissioner Diane Jordan and term-limit turmoil caused the loss in 2006 of Wanda Moody and Mary Lou Horner.