County Commissioner: Small Pay, Big Responsibilities
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As odd as it may seem, one of the most important jobs in Cannon County Government is also the one with the lowest pay.

That's because the role of county commissioner is not a full-time position, as are county executive, trustee, register of deeds, sheriff, etc.

Cannon County has a 10-member legislative body, comprised of two persons elected from each of its five districts. A list of those running in the August 5 General Election is below.

Commissioners in this county meet four times per year for regularly scheduled meetings, and are often called into special session to address matters which require urgent action.

They are paid $50 for each regular meeting, and $20 for a special called session.

The Tennessee Constitution provides that each county (not having a metropolitan form of government) must elect a county legislative body, whose members serve a term of four years. This body is sometimes referred to as the county commission or the board of county commissioners and a member referred to as a county commissioner. 

The county legislative body is composed of not less than nine nor more than 25 members elected from districts, with no more than three members elected from any one district. The county mayor serves as a nonvoting ex officio member of the county legislative body.

Any county resident who is at least 18 years old and who is not otherwise disqualified from holding public office (by reason of certain criminal convictions or other legal disqualifications) may seek the office of county commissioner for the district in which the commissioner resides. No educational or experience requirements apply to the office. 

County commissioners are elected by popular vote at the regular August election in those even-numbered years in which the governor is elected, and each county commissioner takes office on September 1 following the election, after receiving the proper certificate of election and taking the required oath of office.

Voters can only select commissioners to represent the district in which the live/vote. For example, a voter residing in Cannon County's First District can not vote for a Fifth District commissioner, and vice versa.

Duties

The county legislative body is the primary policy-making body in the county. However, the county legislative body is limited to the authority granted to it by the General Assembly in public (general) or private (local) acts.

The most important function of the county legislative body is the annual adoption of a budget to allocate expenditures within the three major funds of county government (general, school, and highway) and any other funds (such as debt service) that may be in existence in the particular county. 

The county legislative body has considerable discretion in dealing with the budget for all funds except the school budget, which in most counties must be accepted or rejected as a whole. If rejected, the school board must continue to propose alternatives until a budget is adopted by both the county school board and the county legislative body.

The county legislative body sets the property tax rate and the revenue from the property tax, along with revenue from other county taxes and fees as well as state and federal monies allocated to the county, is used to fund the budget. The county legislative body is subject to various restrictions in imposing most taxes (such as referendum approval or rate limits), although these do not apply to the property tax.

The county legislative body serves an important role in exercising local approval authority for private acts when the private act does not call for referendum approval. Private acts, which often give additional authority to counties, must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the members of the county legislative body or be approved by a referendum in order to become effective. The form of local approval required is specified in the private act. 

The county legislative body annually elects a chair and a chair pro tempore. The county legislative body in most counties may elect the county mayor or a member of the body to be the chair, although the county mayor may refuse to serve. If the county mayor is chair, he or she may vote only to break a tie vote. 

If a member is chair, the member votes as a member, but cannot vote again to break a tie. If the county mayor is not chair, he or she may veto most resolutions of the county legislative body, but this veto may be overridden by a majority vote. The majority vote that is required for this and the passage of resolutions and most other measures is a majority of the entire actual membership of the county legislative body, and not a majority of the quorum, nor a majority of the authorized membership. 

Another important function of the county legislative body is its role in electing county officers when there is a vacancy in an elected county office. The person elected by the county legislative body serves in the office for the remainder of the term or until a successor is elected, depending upon when the vacancy occurred.

When filling a vacancy in a county office, a notice must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county at least seven days prior to the meeting in which the office will be filled. This notice must notify the public of the vacancy and specify the office to be filled at the meeting.

Before the county legislative body votes or considers any motion or resolution regarding the office to be filled, the chair shall allow voters of the county an opportunity to submit names to the county legislative body for consideration. The names may be submitted in writing to the chair prior to the meeting or submitted in person at the meeting. In order for a name to be considered, a member of the county legislative body must subsequently nominate the person. 

Members of the county legislative body may also nominate a candidate or candidates to fill the office or vacancy without the name being submitted by a voter. Nominations do not require a second. If the person nominated is not present at the meeting, the person making the nomination shall submit a signed statement from the nominee that the nominee is willing to serve in the office if appointed. 

After nominations cease, the county legislative body may discuss the nominations and may, at the discretion of the chair, interview nominees or allow nominees the opportunity to address the county legislative body. Upon motion passed by the majority of the members, the vote to make the appointment may be postponed to a subsequent meeting, provided that adequate public notice of the meeting is given.

Meetings

The county legislative body may fix the times for its regular meetings, but must hold at least one regular meeting each calendar quarter. The trend is to hold more meetings as the responsibilities of county government have expanded over the past decades. Most county legislative bodies now hold regular monthly meetings. The county mayor has the power to call a special meeting of the county legislative body. Also, a majority of the county commissioners may call a special meeting by making application to the chair of the county legislative body. (Shelby and Davidson counties are exempt from the general law on this subject, and have somewhat different provisions under their county or metropolitan government charter provisions.) 

In general, the call for a special meeting must be made in a newspaper publication or by personal notices to the county commissioners sent by the county clerk. This notice must be at least five days before the time for convening the county legislative body. Notice of meeting must be made to be public under the Open Meetings Law even if no other specific law applies. Special rules for a meeting to fill a vacancy are discussed above. 

The duties and procedures of the county legislative body may vary in counties with metropolitan forms of government.

Below is a list of the county commission candidates in the August 5 election. Early voting begins this Friday (July 16).

COUNTY COMMISSIONER 

1ST DISTRICT

Vote For Two (2)

MARK BARKER

Independent Candidate

MARILYN E. BLOODWORTH

Independent Candidate

NATHAN NICHOLS

Independent Candidate

ANNA M. PITTMAN

Independent Candidate

JAMES RUSSELL REED

Independent Candidate

SHELBY (SAM) STOVALL

Independent Candidate

COUNTY COMMISSIONER 

2ND DISTRICT

Vote For Two (2)

KAREN ASHFORD

Independent Candidate

KIMBERLY BAILEY

Independent Candidate

TODD HOLLANDSWORTH

Independent Candidate

JIMMY MINGLE

Independent Candidate

COUNTY COMMISSIONER 

3RD DISTRICT

Vote For Two (2)

JIM BUSH

Independent Candidate

KEVIN DALE GEORGE

Independent Candidate

GREG RIGSBY

Independent Candidate

COUNTY COMMISSIONER 

4TH DISTRICT

Vote For Two (2)

NEAL APPELBAUM

Independent Candidate

CLINT HIGGINS

Independent Candidate

TONY L. NEAL

Independent Candidate

JOE WIMBERLY

Independent Candidate

COUNTY COMMISSIONER 

5TH DISTRICT

Vote For Two (2) 

GREGORY A. FAULS

Independent Candidate

JAMES H. (JIM) JONES

Independent Candidate

KEVIN MOONEYHAM

Independent Candidate

BOB STOETZEL

Independent Candidate

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