LENOIR CITY'S POLITICAL ANOMALY
THE CANDIDATE WHO COULDN'T VOTE FOR HIMSELF
BY: PAT HUNTER
Early voting kicks off on Wednesday October 17 with one hotly contested Lenoir City race for Recorder Treasurer.
Welcome to the bizarre world of "We do it our way" Lenoir City brand of politics.
Two candidates, James W. Wilburn III and Randall J. Brown are vying for the elected position of recorder treasurer for the City of Lenoir for the next four years but only one resides in the corporate Lenoir City limits while the other one does not. As candidates attend political events, shake hands, kiss babies and knock on doors making a last pitch for votes, at least one candidate seeking elected Lenoir City office will not be able to vote for himself.
James Wilburn is a well respected businessman; although he qualified to run for Lenoir City Recorder Treasurer, he is not a Lenoir City resident and he can not vote in the city election.
After Bobby Johnson Jr. resigned as Recorder Treasurer, Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens appointed county resident James Wilburn as interim Recorder Treasurer with Lenoir City Council's approval.
Conversely, Randall J. Brown is a Lenoir City resident and he will be able to vote for himself as well as other candidates on the ballot running for council, school board, and mayor.
When Brown spoke before the TEA Party on August 7, he shared some background information. He was born and raised in Lenoir City and he attended Lenoir City schools. He graduated from Tennessee Tech with an accounting degree and for the last six years he has been working in the accounting field.
Most recently, Lenoir City voters rejected the ballot question of appointment of Recorder Treasurer opting to continue the practice of voter popularly elected Recorder Treasurer. Lenoir City voters elected Frosty Proaps and Debbie Cook, 20 and 30 years respectively.
Voters must now decide whether residency and qualifications will play a factor as to whom will be the next Lenoir City Recorder Treasurer; on November 6th, we'll have the answer.
Here are a couple of questions and concerns that I hope the Tennessee State Election will address. What if a non-resident candidate wins an elected office, how will this affect future races and elections since a precedent will have been set? Will this open the door for non-residents to run for other races and elections?
(NOTE: Background -- A few years back, Lenoir City voters approved amendment changes to the charter thinking that the changes were minor housekeeping changes to antiquated laws. The charter changes were approved by voters however, some changes turned out to be major changes and loop holes in qualifications for some elected offices e.g. city recorder treasurer, city school board; essentially no city residency requirement one year prior to the election, or to be a city resident.
The only exceptions are mayor and aldermen, which require city residency, and a reference to city judges as per the requirements of article VI, Section 4 of the Constitution of Tennessee for judges of inferior courts."... Every Judge of such Courts shall be thirty years of age, and shall before his election, have been a resident of the State for five years and of the circuit or district one year". To be eligible to vote in the city, you must still reside in the city limits).