Term limits haunt 2018 elections

Sandra ClarkGossip and Lies

Twenty-four years ago, Knox County voters said local officials should be limited to two four-year terms. Someday that may happen, but it’s not kicked in yet.

The 1994 referendum was financed by Big Jim Haslam and friends; it was coordinated by Haslam’s political operative Tom Ingram. Their goal: to break up the ruling team of Sheriff Tim Hutchison and his allies on Knox County Commission, many of whom had served 20-30 years.

I’ll spare you the recap of lawsuits, charter amendments and political intrigue that culminated in 2007’s so-called Black Wednesday when commissioners chose Hutchison’s hand-picked successor, Jimmy “J.J.” Jones, who is still the sheriff today and is running for county mayor in 2018. Jones’ political advisor? Tom Ingram.

And Jones has designated his choice for successor, Lee Tramel. Should we assume both men have the backing of Big Jim and Ingram?

And, if so, what exactly was that term limits vote really about?

Here’s the thing.

House Speaker Paul Ryan will be in town tomorrow, June 1, at a multi-tiered fund-raiser – $2,500 for dinner, $10,000 for a photo op; $25,000 for an after-party at a Haslam home.

If JJ and Lee are there in any capacity other than parking cars, we’ll know the fix is in. Now to find somebody with a ticket …

The term-limited Tim Burchett made the rounds of Memorial Day events on Monday like a man who is running for something else. And the non-term-limited U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan was a no-show at Fountain City Day, like a man who is not running for anything.

Charme Allen, Knox County’s first female district attorney, and this writer will meet June 5 to discuss my perception of favored treatment for former Trustee Mike Lowe and Allison Burchett. You can read my report here on June 7. Meanwhile, (I don’t have a clue) if any lawyers out there can coach me a bit, it will make for better reading. Call 661-8777.


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