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Commission vacancies examined
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A tradition in Warren County government to fill vacancies with surviving spouses is under review by the county’s Legislative Committee. 

Members met to continue revising rules regulating the procedures of Warren County’s Legislative Body and how business should be conducted. Among the items discussed was filling vacancies caused by the death or resignation of a county commissioner.

Traditionally, if a commissioner passes away, the surviving spouse has been nominated and appointed at the next commission meeting. 

Billy Earl Jones passed away in 2015. Commissioners appointed his wife, Linda, to complete his term. M.A. Bouldin passed away in 2013 and his wife Johnnie Belle Bouldin was appointed. 

Bill Yancy passed away in 2008 and his wife Melissa was appointed. Jack Smithson passed away in 1999 and his wife Bessie was appointed.

A discussion on this custom was prompted by Commissioner Christy Ross, who was a visiting commissioner and not on the committee. 

She asked, “Haven’t spouses filled in, in the past?”

“They have,” said Commissioner Carl D. Bouldin. “Linda filled, until she moved out of the district. Bill Yancy’s wife filled in.”

Ross asked, “Was that by nomination or by practice?”

“I think it was a nomination and confirmed by the commission,” said Bouldin. “If a widow wanted to, who would say no?” 

Commissioner Robert Hennessee interjected, “That’s true, but you have to think of the common good of the community. It may be the appropriate protocol to take but in the same token, if you had other people who ran for election and you had the second runner-up or the third runner-up, that’s actually the voice of the community.”

Bouldin warned that filling vacancies isn’t always easy. 

“Sometimes finding somebody foolish enough to want this job is harder than you think,” he joked. 

Among the other commission appointments to fill vacancies over the last dozen years:

Ken Martin resigned in 2017. He was replaced with Commissioner Richard Grissom.

Mrs. Yancy resigned in 2016 and was replaced with Commissioner Tyrone Sparkman.

Mrs. Jones resigned in 2017 and was replaced with Commissioner Phillip Stout. 

While that tradition was discussed, committee members agreed that the proper procedure for how the commission nominates and selects someone to fill commissioner vacancies should be included in the policy. 

Commissioner Carlene Brown will contact Tennessee County Commission Association executive director Charles Curtiss to determine if the county has been using proper procedure in making its selections.