Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

May 25, 2012

County to use new district boundaries to fill vacancy

CROSSVILLE — The Cumberland County Commission approved a resolution to use new district boundary lines in the August County General Election in order to fill the vacancy created by the death of 9th District Commissioner Clyde Cramer.

The action was taken during Monday night's county commission meeting.

However, the other 9th District Commissioner, Carmin Lynch, was opposed to the resolution and supported using the old District boundaries prior to the redistricting in order to fill the vacancy.

During discussion of the resolution, Lynch said, "I have discussed this change with several of my constituents who are directly affected and they are disappointed and some even upset that we are even considering this change — especially since they were reassured it wouldn’t affect any local election until 2014. They felt that they voted for Clyde Cramer and should be given the opportunity to vote for the individual who will serve his unexpired term."

According to Cumberland County Election Commission Administrator of Elections Suzanne Smith, state law mandates the vacancy be filled in the next county general election, which is August 2. The only reason the new boundaries are being considered is due to the death of Cramer and the state requirement of having to fill the vacancy, Smith said.

According to Tennessee Code Anotated (TCA) 5-1-104, "The county legislative body shall be required to make an appointment to fill a vacancy within 120 days of recieving notice of the vacancy unless during that time period there is a general election scheduled in the county and there is sufficient time for the vacancy to be placed on the ballot ..."

Smith said the qualifying deadline for the seat in the 9th Civil District will be June 8 at noon, according to timetables in TCA.

However, it is up to the county commission to determine which boundaries to use for filling the vacancy. Smith said it would be much less confusing on the voters and for the commission to use the new boundaries that have been implemented.

Lynch asked commissioners, "Why are we doing this to our constituents? The Tennessee election laws do not require that we do this. The state Election Commission has said they can handle it either way. So we are doing solely this for the convenience of the local Election Commission? In fairness to our constituents, I urge you to vote no on this resolution. Let all of the same people who voted for Clyde run for and/or vote for the individual who will serve his unexpired term."

Mike Harvel, 7th District commissioner, asked if there would be any additional cost to move the boundary back for the election.

Smith explained a special precinct would have to be set up with a special voting machine in order to use the old boundaries and the extra cost for the workers, supplies and machine would roughly be $1,000.

Harry Sabine, 1st District commissioner, also pointed out that those voters being moved into the 6th District from the 9th would be able to vote on the school board position in the county's August 2012 election and they would have to set up a ballot and one special precinct by itself.

"It would be very confusing to the voters," Sabine said.

Smith said it would just be easier for everybody involved to use the new district boundaries.

A motion to approve resolution 05-2012-2 to fill the vacancy using the new boundaries was made by Allen Foster, 4th District. It was supported by Nancy Hyder, 2nd District, and approved in a 14-3 vote.

Voting against the resolution were commissioners Jeff Brown and Sonya Rimmer, 8th District; and Lynch.

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