Sullivan Co. to vote Tues. on redistricting, reducing number of commissioners

The proposal would reduce the number of districts to 7 and eliminate three county commissioners, reducing the board from 24 to 21.

SULLIVAN COUNTY, TN (WJHL)- On Tuesday, the Sullivan County Board of Commissioners is set to vote on a proposal that would downsize the commission and redistrict the commission districts in the county.

Currently, there are 11 commission districts, but the proposal reduces it to seven. Commissioner Bill Kilgore supports the measure saying, “Instead of having 11 districts which are like a shotgun blast of all different sizes and shapes to my opinion it confuses the electorate… the people who are voting.” The new, proposed districts mirror the school board districts. “The best idea was to have all the commissioners and your constables and your school board members all elected from the same district,” Kilgore said.

The proposal would also eliminate three county commissioners, reducing the board from 24 to 21, with each district having three commissioners for representation. This would be a change to the current set-up where some districts have one, two, or three commissioners.

Long-time Commissioner Eddie Williams does not agree with cutting the number of commissioners. “They can get to one of the county commissioners one way or the other the way it is now and the way it’s been for a good while and we need to do everything we can to make ourselves available and continue to be available.”

Under the modified redistricting map, each district would have roughly 24,000 residents. Commissioner Kilgore supports the idea. “I’m a very firm proponent in smaller government is better government,” Kilgore said, “The less cost you have in government then the more money that the people can keep in their pockets.”

If approved, the new districts would go into effect for the 2018 election. It could also change which areas commissioners represent. Mayor Richard Venable said even though a vote on the second reading is expected on Tuesday, it will not be an easy decision.

“Three less commissioners… three people would lose a job that they value and that they’ve run for,” Mayor Venable said. “Even though it’s coming up at our next commission meeting I’m not sure we’ll have a final vote on that. I think we’ll have a lot of debate.”

The board of commissioners will meet Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 9 AM.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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