Jones must overcome history to win

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones will be a credible candidate for county mayor, if he runs, and will keep Commissioner Bob Thomas and perhaps Glenn Jacobs, if he enters the race, busy. However, Jones will need to overcome the impression that he is only a sheriff.

Three previous sheriffs tried to transition to executive or legislative office in Knox County and failed. They were Archie Weaver for city mayor in 1965, Bernard Waggoner for state senator in 1974 and Tim Hutchison for county mayor in 2010. Democrats do not yet have a credible candidate, and the GOP primary in May 2018 will decide who the next county mayor will be.

It also appears that Sherry Witt, register of deeds, and state Rep. Roger Kane will oppose each other for county clerk to follow Foster Arnett Jr., who is term limited, also in the May 2018 primary. This means there will be a new register of deeds and a new state representative.

■  More information is coming out on the search for the new UT athletic director, which resulted in John Currie being hired. It seems the six-member search committee may have interviewed only two candidates, Currie and Phillip Fulmer. David Blackburn at UT Chattanooga was interviewed by the search firm, paid $75,000 for its work, but did not make it to the actual search committee.

The six-member search committee had no black members and only one woman, Donna Thomas (who works at the Athletic Department and was on the search committee that picked Beverly Davenport to be chancellor). Davenport stresses diversity but did not implement it on this high-profile committee.

The Fulmer interview occurred in Nashville at the Governor’s Residence on Curtiswood Lane and included Jimmy Haslam, brother of the governor, Peyton Manning and Chancellor Davenport. The governor was not present for the interview. A majority of the search committee also was not present. Manning favored Fulmer and Jimmy Haslam favored Currie.

Davenport then flew to Manhattan, Kansas, to meet with Currie, where the job was offered.

None of this is inappropriate as such, but it makes for interesting discussion about the total process.

■  Former state Sen. Brown Ayres turns 86 on March 27. He is retired and lives in Sequoyah Hills’ Hamilton House. Judge Charles Susano turns 81 on March 25. He is longest-serving current judge on the state’s civil appellate court.

■  Randy Boyd will hold a major April 24 fundraiser in Knoxville for his campaign for governor in the August 2018 primary. State Sen. Mark Green of Clarksville, another candidate for governor, campaigned in Knoxville last week. But he will likely be nominated to be Secretary of the Army, which would remove him from the race. Green would be a very able choice for the Pentagon.

■  State Sen. Mark Norris of Memphis may end up with a federal judgeship and depart the governor’s race, leaving only Boyd and U.S. Rep. Diane Black as the two major candidates.

■  Jim Harter, longtime Fountain City resident and Scenic Knoxville advocate, died last week. He, along with his wife, Ann, who survives him, were dedicated advocates against billboards and appeared at many city council meetings. He will be missed.

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