General Election 2010: County Executive

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is the first in a series of articles detailing the duties and responsibilities of the county offices up for election in August.

Cannon County voters will go to the polls August 5 to elect persons to serve in a number of county offices for the next four years.

One of the persons they elect will serve as county executive. The current salary for the position in Cannon County is $66,702 per year.

Three people will be on the ballot for voters to choose from: Mike Gannon, Rebekah Hindman Parton and R.O. (George) Pittman.

Gannon is the current county executive and has held the position the last eight years. He is seeking his third four-year term.

Parton is a current Cannon County Commissioner, having served the last eight years on the body. She is the owner and operator of A Touch of Home Flowers.

Pittman currently helps out at J.P.’s Fine Swine Bar-B-Cue, which is owned by his son. He has a background in business, having worked as a vice president for an explosives manufacturer.

The proposed budget for the executive’s office for the 2010-2011 fiscal year is approximately $178,000. The executive has two assistants, a secretary and a bookkeeper.

A county executive is both a manager and a mediator. The person who holds the position is responsible for running the business of county government. They are a manager of money and people.

The county executive interacts with state and federal government officials and agencies. He or she serves as a primary point of contact for companies interested in doing business in the county.

Unofficial duties include providing assistance to citizens who need services, or have a complaint about county government.

The County Executive is the chief executive officer for Cannon County and is the highest elected official. The Executive has the responsibilities of coordinating, processing and analyzing all County legislative measures as well as exercising a role of leadership in Cannon County government.

• The County Executive compiles a budget for all county departments, offices, and agencies, which is presented to the County Commission.

• The County Executive may examine the accounts of all county officers.

• The County Executive manages the county’s payroll function of all county employees.

• The County Executive manages accounting functions such as bank accounts, accounts payable and accounts receivable.

• The County Executive manages the Cannon County personnel (human resources) function. This function is responsible for the legal hiring and firing of employees, recommending salary ranges and pay scales, administering employee benefits, etc.

• The County Executive manages Cannon County’s purchasing function.

• The County Executive works closely with the County Attorney on all legal matters affecting Cannon County.

• The County Executive manages the county’s insurance needs and liability issues.

• The County Executive sets the standard for ethics for Cannon County. He must be familiar with the conflict-of-interest laws and disclosure laws which are applicable to Cannon County and its employees.

• The County Executive works closely with the surrounding municipalities and County Chamber of Commerce in an attempt to attract new businesses and industries to Cannon County.

Subject to the approval of the county legislative body, the county executive appoints department heads and members of county boards and commissions when the general law or private acts do not provide for the election or appointment. However, this authority is limited as the general law or private act creating the department or board usually specifies the method by which the various department heads or board members are selected.

As office management is an important function of the office, county executive should have knowledge of personnel procedures as affected by both state and federal laws. The county executive should have a basic understanding of potential liability, including both personal liability and county liability, and of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act.

A county executive must be a qualified voter in the county, be at least 25 years old, have been a county resident for more than one year prior to filing the nominating petition for the office, and must not otherwise be disqualified from holding public office (by reason of criminal conviction or other legal disqualification). No educational or experience requirements apply to the office.

The county executive is elected by popular vote at the regular August election every four years coinciding with the governor’s election, and takes office on September 1 following the election, after receiving the proper certification of election, obtaining the official bond and taking the required oath of office. Failure to take and file the proper oath and bond is a misdemeanor offense.

The amount of the official bond is $25,000 (in counties with a population of less than 15,000) or $50,000 (in counties with a population of 15,000 or more), or such greater amount as determined by the county legislative body. The bond is payable to the state of Tennessee and is conditioned upon faithfully discharging the duties of the office, which includes keeping all records required by law, turning over all records to the successor in office, and refraining from engaging in an illegal act in an official capacity. The form of the official bond is prescribed by the comptroller of the treasury. Official bonds are recorded in the county register’s office, and must be filed with the comptroller of the treasury within 40 days after election or 20 days after the term of office begins. The county pays the premiums and registration fees for the official bonds. Failure to give the required bond results in a vacancy in office.

Oath of Office

The county executive must take and subscribe to the following oath:

I do solemnly swear that I will perform with fidelity the duties of the office to which I have been elected and which I am about to assume. I do solemnly swear to support the constitutions of Tennessee and the United States and to faithfully perform the duties of the office of county executive for ____________ County, Tennessee. The oath may be administered by any officer legally authorized to administer an oath, which generally includes the county clerk, judges, and notaries public. County officers file their oaths and certificates with the county clerk.

As chief executive officer of the county, the county executive exercises a role of leadership in county government. The primary duties focus on county financial management. The county executive is the general agent of the county and thus may draw warrants upon the general fund unless otherwise provided in an optional general law or county charter. The county executive has custody of county property not placed with other officers, and may also examine the accounts of county officers.

The county executive is a nonvoting ex officio member of the county legislative body and of all committees of the body, and in most counties may be elected chair of the county legislative body (a post that the county executive is not required to seek or accept). If the county executive is chair of the county legislative body, the county executive may break a tie by casting a deciding vote; otherwise, the county executive cannot vote on measures before the county legislative body. The county executive who is not chair may veto legislative resolutions of the county legislative body, but such a veto may be overridden by a majority vote of the members of the county legislative body. The county executive may call special meetings of the county legislative body.
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