The 2020 election season is underway, and if you live in Knox County it is important to understand what is on the ballot.
Two charter amendments will be on the 2020 ballot in Knox County. Sometimes it is difficult to understand the legal terms that explain the amendments. Here is what the amendments are all about.
Amendment 1: Who should choose the law director?
The debate here is whether the law director should be appointed by the mayor, or elected by voters.
A “yes” vote on Amendment 1 means the mayor will appoint the law director starting in 2024. This also means the mayor, County Commission, and School Board can choose their own attorneys. The end result is meant to clear up a lot of conflicts of interest. Almost every other local government system in Tennessee requires the mayor to appoint the law director.
Supporters advocate that having one law director represent three conflicting parties is a recipe for disaster. They argue that each section: the mayor, County Commission, and School Board should have the ability to choose their own representation.
This could increase tax payer’s legal expenses, but it is not projected to be a large increase. However, they argue it would be worth it if the result is a fair system of representation.
A “no” vote on Amendment 1, means the voters will continue to elect the law director. This has been a long-standing tradition in Knox County. Opposers argue that it should stay that way.
A “no” vote also allows voters to hire and fire the law director, instead of handing over that power to the county mayor. This also gives the law director incentive to do the job well, because the voters are the ones dictating his position. It also requires the law director to pay close attention to how taxpayer dollars are being spent.
Amendment 2: Should the mayor have to run contracts less than $100K by the County Commission?
A “yes” vote adds a new requirement to the mayor’s duties and requires approval from the County Commission on contracts less than $100K. Supports argue that more transparency in government is better.
A “no” vote means the mayor will not need approval from the County Commission on contracts less than $100. Opposers argue that the position has not needed approval on these contracts before.