The Bradley County Commission has decided to revisit the issue of whether or not future candidates have to run for specific Commission seats within each district.
A resolution that failed with a 7-7 vote at the Commission’s most recent voting session was once again debated at its work session Monday night.
Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones said she was still in favor of the measure to create a Seat A and Seat B for each district instead of just electing the two commissioners who in general receive the highest number of votes.
Peak-Jones said state law dictates that local councils or commissions serving populations of 150,000 and higher are required to follow the “A-B seat” model and that it would be good for the county government as the area continues to grow.
Commissioner Mark Hall said he was still against the idea. He asked why some of the current commissioners who were not planning to run again were concerned.
“Trying to manipulate an election is unethical,” Hall said.
Commissioners in favor of the voting rule change said it would better allow residents to have more say in who holds which seat, eliminating the “single-shot voting” of someone just choosing one commissioner — not two — in the voting booth.
Hall argued it was the opposite.
“They’re going to choose the seat that gives them the best chance of success … an empty seat,” he said.
Commissioner Jeff Yarber argued it would actually be a positive thing, because it would allow voters to change just one Commission seat. A person could vote again for a commissioner they wanted to keep in office and could also make a change to a seat held by a commissioner they do not want in office.
“I will be running again, and I support this wholeheartedly,” Yarber said. “I will vote for it again.”
Hall argued it was too late to make any changes in election rules because Commission candidates were able to begin the election registration process beginning last Friday.
“These seats are the people’s seats,” Peak-Jones said, adding that she would support the measure even if it would not take effect until the election after next.
The issue will be discussed further during the Commission’s next voting session on Dec. 2.
That evening, the Commission will also be discussing whether or not it will officially recognize a road that already has a house built along it and whether or not the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office can use money collected from drug busts to pay an employee’s salary.
The Bradley County Road Committee had previously discussed how a woman who owned land along Roumelia Lane in the Riverview Estates subdivision had recently found out the road drawn on the original plans for the area had not officially been made a road. The area was recorded in the 1970s, but the county failed to name Roumelia Lane a county road the way it had other ones nearby.
The landowner just recently decided she wanted to build a house on her land, but discovered she could not get a building permit because there was no official road there. The Commission will discuss the matter further and may vote on whether or not the county will recognize the road and pave it with gravel.
Sheriff Jim Ruth also addressed the Commission on hiring a new employee and paying them with money from the BCSO drug fund. Commissioners said they thought the money could only be used for one-time expenditures like equipment for patrol cars, but the issue would be placed on the agenda to be considered later. This gives them time to examine the rules dictating how the money had to be used.