Commission appoints Russell as 4th District Constable

Published 9:09 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2018

It took five votes and two rounds of questions for the applicants, but members of the Carter County Commission appointed a new constable to serve the residents of the 4th District.

On the fifth vote, the Commission selected Jason “Bryan” Russell to serve as the new constable by a margin of 14-7. Russell will finish out the term of former constable Tim Lyons, who resigned from his post and withdrew from the upcoming election last month.

Lyons resignation created a vacancy for the Commission to fill. Three residents of the 4th District — which is comprised of the Courthouse, East Side, Siam, and National Guard Armory precincts — applied for consideration for the appointment. Joining Russell in applying for the post were Jason Emel Jones, Roger Allen Lunceford.

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Prior to the vote by the Commission, each of the three candidates was allowed to address the group and commissioners were allowed to ask questions of the candidates.

Russell told the Commission he wanted the position because he felt he needed to give back to his community and also hinted at issues the district had encountered with constables in the past.

“My big thing is just getting out there and creating a positive environment,” Russell said. “It’s time for a change in our community. It’s time for there to be a constable out there patrolling and doing what they need to be doing.”

Russell cited his prior experience working for the Tennessee Department of Corrections for three years and the law enforcement training he received there as something that would benefit him in the position if he is selected.

During his talk, Russell cited his respect for the role of constable and a desire to bring more professionalism to the position.

“I think the constables are an asset to the county and I think they can work with the Sheriff’s Department if you can get ones in there the Sheriff’s Department can trust,” Russell said. “I want to get in there and show the Sheriff’s Department that not all constables are bad.”

Roger Lunceford spoke to the Commission about his experience in law enforcement working for the Carter County Sheriff’s Office after being hired by former Sheriff Harry Buckles.

“I worked 18 years as a road deputy for the county,” Lunceford said.

If selected to serve as constable, Lunceford said he has the time to commit to the position. “I’m retired. I’ve been retired for a few years,” Lunceford said. “I can put my time in 24 hours a day seven days a week.”

If selected, Lunceford said his focus would be serving his district.

“If I get the job, I’m going to be there for the people,” he said. “My record will show I’ve been there for people before.”

Jones spoke to the Commission about his desire to serve his community by being a constable.

“I feel I could help the community just by being out there and being seen,” Jones said, adding he feels that having high visibility would help deter crimes in the community.

Jones said he has spoken with several people in the district who complained to him they never saw the constables out in the community and didn’t even know who the constables were.

While he has no official experience as a constable or law enforcement officer, Jones said he has been working with Constable John Henson and riding along with him for some time. “I’ve been assisting him with serving papers and going out on patrol with him for three years,” Jones said.

After the candidates address the group, the Commission took the first vote to appoint a new constable. On the first vote, eight voted for Jones while six voted for Lunceford and six for Russell. A minimum of 13 is required to make the appointment.

Typically, when there are more than two candidates, after the first vote the field is narrowed to the top two vote-getters. However, because Lunceford and Russell both garnered six votes, neither of them could be eliminated.

The Commission voted again, and this time Jones received eight, Russell received seven, and Lunceford received five. With that vote, Lunceford was dropped from consideration, and another vote was taken between just Jones and Russell.

Prior to that vote, Commissioner Ross Garland who had been absent at the start of the meeting arrived. The third vote came in with nine for Jones and 11 for Russell. Garland abstained from that vote.

A fourth came in with eight for Jones and 12 for Russell, with Garland again abstaining.

Following the fourth vote, Chairman Dr. Robert Acuff, after a request from the Commission floor, invited Russell and Jones back to the podium for additional comments and questions.

After the candidates spoke again, a fifth vote was taken, with Russell garnering 14 votes and Jones receiving seven. Those voting for Russell were Commissioners Buford Peters, Acuff, Ronnie Trivett, Charles VonCannon, Isaiah Grindstaff, Danny Ward, Garland, Bobbie Gouge-Dietz, Timothy Holdren, Randall Jenkins, Sonja Culler, Ray Lyons, Robert Carroll, and Kelly Collins. Those voting for Jones were Commissioners Willie Campbell, Nancy Brown, Mike Hill, Al Meehan, Bradley Johnson, John Lewis, and Larry “Doc” Miller.