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Who is going to take the Mayor’s chair

With the untimely passing of Mayor Rusty Barnett, the question that has been on the minds of many is who will succeed Barnett to fill out his unexpired term.

Barnett did an outstanding job of bringing the City of Elizabethton and Carter County together on numerous projects with so many other opportunities on the table so it will be a difficult decision to bring someone on board who has a vision and passion for seeing the entire county as a whole continue to work together and bring businesses and industry back to the area.

According to current acting Commission Chairman Travis Hill, there have been four candidates who have submitted their names to be considered to the Carter County Clerk’s Office and those four are current interim mayor Patty Woodby, David Miller, Devon Buck, and Michael W. Ensor.

For those who still might have an interest, potential candidates have until noon on Wednesday, November 18, 2020, to submit a general county application, resume, and/or any other desired documentation to the County Clerk’s Office at 801 E. Elk Avenue, Suite 102, Elizabethton, TN, 37643.

In a previously released press release, Hill said, “I would like to encourage all citizens who would like to be considered for the mayoral appointment to please apply.”

“I would like to see someone be appointed who had the same love and vision that the late Mayor Barnett had. Someone who can work with the County Commission and all elected officials to better the lives of all Carter Countians.”

Hill was asked to review the process going forward in selecting Barnett’s replacement.

“On November 23, 2020, I will read all the applications that I have received,” said Hill. “I will open up the floor for nominations and commissioners will nominate one person at a time.

“They can nominate one, two, all that turned in an application or none of them. Candidates do not need to submit an application but can have a commissioner nominate them.

“Also during public comment, someone from the public can offer a name but a commissioner must nominate them.”

Hill further explained that once nominations have ceased, interviews will be conducted in alphabetical order with those on Zoom being sent to the waiting room to wait their turn.

Both the Democratic and Republican party chairs for Carter County have been solicited for assistance with the questions which will be asked to the nominees with these questions from both parties being submitted to the county attorney who will deliver them in a sealed envelope before the meeting.

Hill said that this was an important step in the process of fairness to all candidates.

“This is to ensure that no one, including myself, will know what the questions will be,” Hill stated. “After the initial questions, commissioners will be allowed to ask any questions they deem necessary.”

Hill also said it was very important that the public participates in the selection process by also sending questions to be asked of the candidates.

“The public can submit any question, statement, or letters of recommendation to travis.hill@cartercountytn.gov or clerk@cartercountytn.gov and I will present those to the body,” Hill said. “If anyone would like to speak during public comment they need to contact me or the clerks office so that I can make sure to include them.

“The floor will also be open for public comment for call-ins or zoom watchers. We want this process to be as transparent as we possibly can be. We want the public’s input.”

Hill went on further to explain how the process would proceed after the interview portion is completed.

“After the interviews have been completed we will begin the voting process,” commented Hill. “Any commissioner who is interviewed will not be allowed to vote and the vote total will reduce.

“An example is if one commissioner is nominated the voting total is 23 and 12 votes would secure the win. A simple majority is all that is needed to be appointed as the new Mayor.

“If at the end of the first round of votes no nominee has reached the magic number the lowest vote-getter drops out of contention and the voting resumes,” Hill continued. “This goes on until someone gets the majority.

“Now, at the end of the interview process, any commissioner can make a motion to defer the vote till a later date. If that happens we will go into recess until a date is selected to reconvene at which no new nominees can be accepted. It will be a straight voting meeting.”

Hill is working to try and get local radio station WBEJ to air the meeting live on the radio.

He went on to once again emphasize and encourage the public to email any questions or comments that they have to him.

“We work for the people of Carter County so we value their input,” Hill concluded.