Acuff, Johnson chosen to fill county seats
Published 12:01 am Tuesday, May 19, 2015
The Carter County Commission filled two vacant seats and revisited the purchase of an electronic voting system during a marathon meeting Monday.
The Commission selected Robert Acuff to fill the vacancy for the 1st District and Brad Johnson for the 3rd District vacancy.
As the first order of business during a meeting that last just over five hours on Monday, the Commission heard from candidates seeking appointment to the two vacancies, tackling the 1st District seat first.
Each applicant was allowed five minutes to address the full Commission and explain his or her qualifications and motivations for seeking the post.
Christopher Schuettler withdrew his name from consideration, leaving three candidates vying for the 1st District seat – Acuff, William Birchfield and Elbert Stevenson. Birchfield ran for a Commission seat for the district during the May 2014 primary election but came in fourth and did not move on to the August general election ballot.
After the three spoke to the Commission, Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey opened the floor for nominations. Commissioner Nancy Brown nominated Birchfield, and Commissioner Buford Peters nominated Acuff.
The vote came in with 12 choosing Acuff and 10 casting votes for Birchfield. Those voting for Acuff were Peters, Willie Campbell, Mike Hill, Al Meehan, Isaiah Grindstaff, L.C. Tester, Danny Ward, Ross Garland, Bobbie Gouge-Dietz, Timothy Holdren, Sonja Culler and Scott Simerly. Those casting ballots for Birchfield were Brown, Ronnie Trivett, Charles VonCannon, Randall Jenkins, John Lewis, Larry “Doc” Miller, Ray Lyons, Robert Carroll, Robert Gobble and Cody McQueen.
After filling the vacancy for the 1st District, members moved on to filling the 3rd District vacancy. Applicants were Joni Cannon, Bradley Johnson, Billy Peters and Robert Robbins. Debra Sams contacted Humphrey before the meeting and asked to withdraw her name. Applicants Gordon Carroll, Scotty Hall and Kenneth Harrison were not in attendance.
After the candidates spoke, Humphrey opened the floor for nominations. Lewis nominated Johnson, Culler nominated Cannon and Trivett nominated Billy Peters.
After the first round of voting, Cannon received six votes, Johnson received eight and Billy Peters received eight, with no clear majority winner.
As the lowest vote recipient, Cannon was dropped from the ballot and votes were cast again. On the second round of voting, Johnson received 14 votes to Billy Peters’ eight.
Those voting for Johnson were Campbell, Buford Peters, Brown, Hill, Meehan, VonCannon, Grindstaff, tester, Ward, Gouge-Dietz, Holdren, Lewis, Culler and McQueen. Those casting ballots for Billy Peters were Trivett, Garland, Jenkins, Miller, Lyons, Simerly, Carroll and Gobble.
After Johnson was selected, both he and Acuff stood before Carter County Clerk Mary Gouge and were sworn into office. The two new commissioners then took their seats for the remainder of the meeting. Johnson and Acuff will serve on the Commission until the mid-term elections in 2016 when those seats will appear on the ballot. Whoever is elected to those seats at that time will then serve out the remaining two years of the term.
In new business, the Commission debated at length a budget amendment which would transfer funds from the Mayor’s budget to the Commission budget to pay for the purchase of an electronic voting system.
In February, the budget committee brought forth the budget amendment but it did not pass the full Commission. In March, the Commission revisited the subject and a motion to purchase the electronic voting system passed by a narrow margin of 12-10 after a long debate.
While the Commission approved the purchase of the system in March, the budget amendment to transfer the funds was not approved at that time. The amendment was brought back through the budget committee and was once again presented to the full Commission on Monday.
Several commissioners who spoke against the purchase of the system in February and March once again voiced their opinions.
“I still think we should look at other systems because we have only seen this one system,” Ward said.
Several members asked if the system had already been purchased and if the county was under a contract to buy it.
“I made an agreement with this company to make this purchase based on the action you took last month,” Humphrey said, adding the county is currently using it in “preview” based on that agreement.
While the system was in use on Monday, County Finance Director Ingrid Deloach clarified to the body that the system had not yet been purchased.
“I have not issued a purchase order and I will not until the amendment is approved,” she said. “There will not be a check cut for the Roll Call Pro if no amendment is passed.”
When the amendment came to a vote, it ultimately passed on a vote of 15-8, with Brown, Johnson, Trivett, VonCannon, Grindstaff, Garland, Holdren, Jenkins, Lewis, Miller, Lyons, Simerly, Carroll, Gobble and McQueen voting in favor. Campbell, Buford Peters, Acuff, Hill, Meehan, , Ward, Gouge-Dietz and Culler opposed the amendment.