Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank wants to serve as chair of the County Commission, and she’s asked to be considered as a candidate in September 2016.
In an October 14 letter, Frank also asked commissioners to sit with them during meetings.
The proposals could be considered by the Anderson County Commission on Monday.
If she were commission chair, Frank said, she would have to surrender her veto power. She would have a non-voting position, but she would be able to cast a vote to break a tie.
“While this may seem a shocking proposal at first, I think we can look back over the history of Anderson County and see that the county mayor as chairman—or county executive or judge as the position used to be called—was an effective structure,” Frank said.
She said the county mayor as chair would encourage the board and the mayor to work closer on a regular basis throughout each month instead of just at monthly meetings. The mayor said she thinks she’s proven herself while chairing the Budget Committee, Purchasing Committee, and Animal Welfare Task Force.
“I have worked hard to make the running of these committees respectful and enjoyable—yet also efficient, truly engaging, and deliberative,” Frank said.
The next election is September 2016 for one-year terms for Anderson County Commission chair and vice chair. Anderson County Commissioner Steve Emert of District 3 was elected to a one-year term as chair during a September meeting, and Commissioner Tim Isbel was elected vice chair. It’s too early to say if the mayor, if her proposal is endorsed by commissioners, would end up challenging Emert next year.
“It may seem overly in advance to make such a request for your vote as your next chairman in 2016, but I make such a proposal so that over the months you might envision how government might work better in Anderson County,” Frank said. “I believe that such a move would not only be a benefit to the working mechanics of government, but would send a welcome, positive message both to our government team and the taxpayers who entrust us with the care of their dollars.”
Regarding her request to sit with commissioners, Frank said the county mayor—any county mayor, not just her—is an ex officio member (generally a non-voting member) of the County Commission, as well as other committees.
“I think if we look at the sheer mechanical and physical structure of our meetings, the layout is one that encourages adversarial and confrontational dialogue instead of collaboration,” Frank said.
“It is my belief that debate and disagreement in the world of policy and governance is not only healthy, but a necessary part of our government,” Frank said. “However, while there may always be times when particular issues may be held dear to a particular member or members (including me) and debate might be more spirited, healthy, respectful debate is the goal.”
The mayor acknowledged that the commission’s large, elevated, U-shaped desk would be crowded, so she proposed adding space for one more seat, and she would take responsibility for the addition.
It’s not clear yet if the County Commission, which includes members who have a sometimes-strained relationship with the mayor, will agree to either proposal. The County Commission meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Monday, October 19, in Room 312 of the Anderson County Courthouse in Clinton. See the agenda here: Anderson County Commission Regular Agenda Oct. 19, 2015.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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