Warren County government is in the middle of a hostile takeover attempt.
Commissioner Blaine Wilcher is attempting to take control of monthly County Commission meetings from County Executive Jimmy Haley.
“Our meetings have become something many of us dread attending,” said Wilcher. “It doesn’t have to be that way. I want to do the best job I can for my district and all citizens of Warren County by conducting our meetings in the appropriate manner.”
His announcement to attempt to take chairmanship of the Warren County Commission from Haley came Monday night during the Warren County Commission meeting. It comes one month after July’s commission meeting descended into lengthy speeches and personal attacks. Haley called the situation a “circus” and voiced a desire to “see where this circus goes.”
Haley was unanimously appointed by commissioners to be chairman in September 2018. Commissioners will vote on Wilcher’s bid as chairman next month, one year after Haley was appointed.
This move in no way impacts Haley’s other duties as county executive.
As Warren County Commission chairman, Haley presides over the monthly commission meetings and is considered a non-voting ex officio member of the county legislative body. He is only allowed to vote in the event of a tie. He also has the ability to set committee assignments, a recommendation that requires County Commission approval.
Historically, the chairman seat has been held by the county executive. However, commissioners may elect any member of the commission to be the chair.
If Haley loses the chairman seat, he will gain the ability to veto most resolutions of the county legislative body, but this veto power may be overridden by a majority vote. He will remain county executive and retain all the other authorities associated with that elected position.
If Wilcher is successful, he will gain the chairman responsibilities – excluding the ability to break a tie vote – and retain his regular vote as a commissioner representing his constituents.
“You won’t have a tie breaker,” said Charles Curtiss, referring to the scenario if Wilcher wins his bid as chairman. Curtiss is executive director of the Tennessee County Commission Association.
Curtiss continued, “Wilcher will still be allowed to vote as a commissioner, so the people in his district are represented, but he will not have the ability to break tie votes. If they have a tie vote, they will have to re-vote or lay it over to the next meeting or something. They could turn right around and consider their previous action in an effort to break a tie.”
Wilcher said commissioners voicing dissatisfaction with the way Haley presides over the meetings played a role in his decision.
“I decided to run for chair of the commission to address concerns by many of my fellow commissioners, who are dissatisfied with the way our monthly meetings are conducted,” said Wilcher. “I respect Executive Haley and believe he works hard for our county. However, I feel we should do a better job for our citizens and maintain decorum in our meetings.”
Haley did not return texts or calls for comment on this story.
September’s meeting night of the Warren County Commission is Sept. 16. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.