Federal magistrate judge Clifford Shirley is not seeking a third term when his term ends in February 2018. This triggers a search for a new magistrate, which ultimately is decided by the federal judges for the eastern district of Tennessee with Tom Varlan as the Chief Judge. It also includes active senior judges.
Under federal law, a magistrate judge merit selection panel has been established to review applicants and submit five names to the judges who will make a final decision. The search committee is chaired by highly respected and hard-working Knoxville attorney Mark Mamantov. It also includes two non-lawyers as required by law.
The first week of February, I visited Easter Island in the South Pacific Ocean, 2,300 miles east of Chile, which owns the island. It had been on my bucket list for years. Two other Knoxvillians who have previously visited Easter Island are Will Skelton, active greenways advocate and retired attorney, and Jeff Chapman, well respected director of the McClung Museum on the UT Knoxville campus.
Getting there is part of the adventure, as one flies to Santiago, the capital of Chile, overnight and then flies five hours west over the Pacific to the island, which is partway to Australia from Chile. There are daily flights to the island from Santiago. Otherwise, one goes by ship, and they are infrequent.
Alvin Nance, former executive director of KCDC who left to work for Lawler Wood Housing Partners, has applied for his old job back at Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation as Art Cate is retiring as director. Nance will have to compete with at least 38 other applicants, and the process will likely go into 2017. If he prevails, this will be the first time the same person has served twice as KCDC chief.
Nance was highly regarded at KCDC and would be a safe and respected choice for another tour. He would not need on-the-job training. He also would not be running for mayor in a special election in 2017 or the regular election in 2019.
With the party conventions concluded, and the Clinton/Trump race underway, it’s easy to forget there’s an election on Thursday.
In fact, if you had forgotten about this week’s state primary and county general election, you’re not alone. Early voting turnout was below average because there is no statewide non-judicial office (governor or U.S. senator) on the ballot. Competitive statewide elections encourage political advertising and voter interest. There’s none of that this year.
Despite never being a favorite of the Republican establishment, Steve Hall served two terms on City Council and two terms in the state House and was putting up other people’s signs for years before he ever ran for office. Closely associated with former state Sen. Stacey Campfield, Hall has always been an outsider, perhaps best illustrated by his 2006 run against incumbent Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale. He didn’t win, but he gave Ragsdale a brisk and unexpected challenge.
The Campfield relationship plus some missteps during Hall’s second House term – like landing on the wrong side of a controversy over changing Middlebrook Pike’s scenic highway designation at the behest of a new Tennova hospital facility and seeming to entertain conversation about selling Lakeshore Park – were a gift to his challenger, Martin Daniel, who ended up taking the seat in 2014.
The hottest contested legislative contest in 42 days is for the West Knoxville district where incumbent state Rep. Martin Daniel faces three opponents including former state Rep. Steve Hall whom he defeated two years ago in the GOP primary. The winner probably wins with a plurality (not a majority) of the total vote which is likely to be less than 5,500. In other words, 2,000 votes may win it for someone.
The youngest candidate is James Corcoran, 36, an attorney who lives at 5675 Eagle Crest Drive in northwest Knox County. He is married and the father of twins, James IV and Elsa, 20 months old. He and his family are members of St. George Greek Orthodox Church. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in English as well as the UT College of Law.
A forum for Republican candidates for Tennessee’s 18th-district House seat came across a little like the story of Goldilocks − conservative, more conservative, most conservative and an outsider.
The candidates − incumbent Martin Daniel, his predecessor Steve Hall, former Stacey Campfield aide Bryan Dodson and attorney James Corcoran − spoke at last week’s West Knox Republican Club meeting. The 18th district is roughly constrained by Pleasant Ridge Road, Northshore Drive, Gleason Drive and Lovell Road.