Proffitt, Depew resign seats on County Commission

Published 9:14 am Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Proffitt Quote

Following the resignation of two members, the Carter County Commission must now begin the search for their replacements.

At the start of Monday’s meeting of the governing body, Commissioner Jerry Proffitt asked to address the group regarding his leaving.

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“I am no longer a commissioner in Carter County because I moved out of my district,” Proffitt said.

Living in the Hunter Community, Proffitt was elected to represent the first district. He was one of several homeowners displaced by the Elizabethton Municipal Airport’s project to expand the runway.

“My house was at the end of the runway,” Proffitt said.

While the process began some time ago for the airport to purchase the affected homes, it took longer than some homeowners expected. It was some time before Proffitt learned how much money he was going to receive for his home and even longer to receive that money so he could purchase a new one.

“We waited and waited and lost out on several homes,” Proffitt said. “This went on until the first week of December. The homes we were looking at were all gone and I had a 90-day notice to move.”

Out of necessity, Proffitt said he had to purchase a home outside the first district.

“I didn’t just up and move out,” Proffitt said. “I don’t want to use the word forced, but technically I was.”

Once he moved out of the district he was elected to represent, Proffitt vacated his seat on the commission according to County Attorney Joshua Hardin.

The subject of Proffitt’s seat on the commission was brought up during the body’s February meeting by Proffitt’s fellow first district representative Buford Peters. During that meeting, Peters said he had heard Proffitt had moved out of the district and he asked Hardin for an opinion on how that would affect Proffitt’s status as a commissioner. Hardin responded that, based on his understanding, if a commissioner moves out of their elected district they immediately vacate their seat. Proffitt was not present at that meeting.

There had been some talk about Proffitt’s move, which he told the body he wanted to address.

“There were some statements made that I knew I was going to move before I decided to run for office,” Proffitt said. “I assumed I would be able to remain in the first district.” It was not his intention to vacate his seat on the commission, Proffitt said.

The second resignation by a commissioner was announced by Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey, who said he had received a resignation letter from Commissioner Beth Depew sent by text message. Depew was elected to represent the third district on the commission.

“Since being elected, I was presented with a professional opportunity that enables me to expand my horizons and provide a better life for my family,” Depew said in the letter. “I could not pass up this opportunity as my family and their needs will always come first in my life.”

“I have enjoyed working with the Commission and have faith that a new commissioner will be appointed to fill my position in a timely manner,” she added.

The commission now has the responsibility to appoint two replacement commissioners to fill the vacancies. Until the slots are filled, the commission will operate as a 22-person governing body, which means matters requiring a simple majority vote will require at least 12 votes in order to pass.