A power struggle between two committees in Warren County government could be coming to an end with the removal of a chairman.
“This hasn’t been about power,” said Commissioner Steven Helton. “Some people have had a hard time believing that. I hope my actions speak louder than their words. That’s the reason I removed myself as chairman of County Corrections. It does not change my opinion about the importance of that committee.”
That statement came after Monday night’s monthly session of the Warren County Commission when Helton voluntarily removed himself from the leadership role within the county’s Corrections Partnership Committee. He remains a member of that committee.
“I make a motion to appoint Joseph Stotts as chairman,” said Helton rather than allow the possibility of his returning as chairman.
Helton, as well as committee members Commissioners Stotts, Carl D. Bouldin, Carl E. Bouldin and Steve Glenn, unanimously voted in favor of the motion.
Corrections Partnership Committee has been at odds with the county Safety Committee since January. It was at that time that chairman Helton began an effort to take the budgetary reins over the jail and angered Safety Committee chair Commissioner Ron Lee, who accused Helton of overstepping boundaries.
“I’ve ruffled a lot of feathers along the way. That’s obvious,” said Helton. “It doesn’t do the commission any good to have commissioners at odds with one another and it’s not helpful to what I’ve been attempting to accomplish with County Corrections. I stand by my belief that County Corrections should be over the jail, while the Safety Committee remains over the Sheriff’s Department.”
Two committees overseeing the jail is redundant and unnecessary, said Helton, who urged commissioners to divide those responsibilities or “combine the two committees.”
When pressed on his use of words and county bylaws which set the number of members per committee at five and not 10, Helton agreed that the end of Corrections Partnership would be the outcome.
“If moving the responsibilities from Safety to Corrections does not work, let’s end the redundancy by doing away Corrections Partnership and adding its responsibilities with that of Safety,” said Helton. “Let me be perfectly clear, I would prefer to keep Corrections Partnership because I believe it has been a very active committee and an asset to the jail.”
As its new chairman, Commissioner Joseph Stotts has yet to call a meeting of the county’s Corrections Partnership Committee. That first meeting will likely provide more discussion on the future of the committee.