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The Scoop - Don't downsize our commission
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It’s time to talk about resizing the Warren County Commission. For all the folks who think our County Commission is way too big with 24 members, now is your time to act.

This is a conversation that can only take place every 10 years because counties are only allowed to modify their legislative bodies in conjunction with the U.S. census, per the Tennessee Constitution.

The Tennessee Constitution also says county legislative bodies shall not exceed 25 members and there shall be no more than three representatives elected from one district. Those are some of the few requirements, according to the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.

With 24 members on our Warren County Commission, there always seems to be talk about the need to downsize. Just look at Hamilton County with only nine members on its County Commission. With the city of Chattanooga included in that area, Hamilton County has some 367,000 residents.

Why would Warren County, with some 41,200 residents, have 24 commissioners? Why?

Decades ago when this issue was introduced, I must admit I was in favor of reducing the size of our County Commission from 24 to 12. Instead of two commissioners per district, we could just elect one. The change would require minimal work and flow with ease.

During that time, some 20 years ago, I had visions of all the commissioners I wanted to see gone getting removed from office by the voters. We would be left with a mean, lean County Commission of 12 all-star members with all the dead weight trimmed.

Then a highly esteemed local resident made this comment to me. “You’re operating under the assumption the bad ones will get voted out,” he told me. “Well it won’t ever work that way. If anything, the 12 good ones will get removed and we’ll be left with the 12 bad ones.”

It was a powerful point and one I still remember today.

One thing I do appreciate about the size of our Warren County Commission is it takes 13 votes to get most anything accomplished. That’s a pretty sizable majority.

If you contrast that to the city of McMinnville, with just seven elected officials, all it takes is four votes and you can do anything you want in the city. Four votes really isn’t that many when you’re discussing million-dollar projects.

All things considered, I don’t favor downsizing our County Commission. I say leave it at 24 members. 

I also don’t see any point in making an A Seat and a B Seat for each of our 12 districts as has been commonly discussed over the years. Instead of taking the top two vote-getters from each district, the proposed system would take the top vote-getter for Seat A and the top one for Seat B.

I see this as being one giant headache which accomplishes very little, if anything. One thing it would do for sure is confuse the voters.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.