editorial (2006-29)

County Election Endorsements

Threading our way through the term-limits morass

County Election Endorsements

The Knox County general election Aug. 3 is about as bollixed up as an election could be, with no ruling on whether term limits may apply to half the candidates on the ballot.

Still, with the leadership of County Commission and the holders of the county’s constitutional offices such as sheriff, register of deeds, etc., at stake, voters should be casting ballots as best they can figure out how on election day or in early voting, which is now underway.

Clearly, County Mayor Mike Ragsdale, who is unopposed and not subject to any term limits at this time, deserves a vote of confidence heading into his second term.

Nine county commissioners, however, may not get a chance to serve another term, depending on a state Supreme Court ruling that will not come until after the election. Metro Pulse does not endorse any of their candidacies. They include Diane Jordan (1st District, Seat AS), David Collins (2nd District, Seat A), Billy Tindell (2nd District, Seat B), John Schmid (4th District, Seat A), Phil Guthe (4th District, Seat B), John Griess (5th District, Seat C), Mark Cawood (6th District, Seat A), John Mills (8th District, Seat B), and Larry Clark  (9th District, Seat A).

All but Jordan, Tindell and Cawood are Republican, and each has an opponent. Jordan is opposed by Republican Nick Della Volpe, a lawyer and community activist. Tindell is opposed by Independent Amy Broyles, running as a write-in, which will not require a paper ballot under the new county voting machine system, and Cawood is opposed by school board member Chuck James, a Republican. The rest are opposed by Democrats who won their party’s nomination in the primary. Jordan is also opposed by an independent.

The opposing candidates all have something to commend them, especially those opposing Jordan, Collins, Tindell, Guthe, and Griess, whose lawsuit resulted in a chancellor’s ruling that declared the whole county Charter invalid. They may have been trying to clear the air, but their suit was widely viewed as one to retain their seats against the term limitation passed by almost 80 percent of county voters 12 years ago and held in abeyance since then.

Three other sitting commissioners, Mike McMillan (8th District, Seat A), Wanda Moody (3rd District, Seat A), and Mary Lou Horner (7th District, Seat A), would have been term-limited and cut back on their campaigning to the extent they were defeated in the primary. Competitors for those three seats are not being endorsed by Metro Pulse.

Another Commission seat (6th District, Seat B) was vacated when Larry Stephens decided not to seek re-election. For that seat, the voters’ best choice is Democrat Margaret Massey Cox, a community activist who is a Democrat. The Republican primary winner, used-car dealer Greg “Lumpy” Lambert, is a clown who seems likely to embarrass his district if elected.

In the 9th District, Seat A race, Paul Pinkston, the Republican who could serve another term without threat of being limited out of office by the Supreme Court this term, is opposed by Independent Martin Pleasant. Pinkston has been a less than positive force on Commission since succeeding his late brother, Howard “Nooky” Pinkston, in that seat, so it is difficult to see why an independent could not serve better than he.

In the races for sheriff, trustee, register of deeds and the clerkships, a vote for the incumbent Republicans and the lone Democrat may be wasted, even if they are unopposed, if term limits are brought to apply. Therefore Metro Pulse sees no reason to endorse in those races.

The single school board seat with more than one candidate on the ballot is in the 6th District, where Metro Pulse endorses technology executive Thomas A. Deakins.