Thursday night at the Duncan School of Law, in the Robert H. Watson, Jr. Courtroom the League of Women Voters hosted a Candidate Forum for the candidates of the Property Assessor and Law Director.
The evening began with Former TN Supreme Court Justice, now Dean of the LMU Duncan School of Law Justice Gary Wade welcoming the 48 or so attendees and introducing Rynn Dupes, President of the Knoxville League of Women Voters.
The Moderator for the evening was Matt Shafer Powell, the Director of News Content/Executive Producer of WUOT-FM
The Knoxville League of Women Voters will be publishing a Voters Guide to be distributed in the near future.
Property Assessor – What qualifications do they bring to the office.
Andrew Graybeal has been in the mortgage business since 1993 and a Real Estate Professional since 2003
Jim Weaver said he is most experienced, most designated, the past 9 years as the Chief Deputy under Property Assessor Phil Ballard
John Whitehead has 38 years experience in the Assessors office and the last 9 years assisting citizens that have appealed their over assessments and Whitehead’s assistance has a 100% record in having the assessments lowered.
Law Director – What improvements will be implemented during your service as Law Director
Nathan Rowell said he is more experienced and his time will be spent providing leadership directing the litigation, he said that his opponent had 4 years experience before becoming law director, Rowell has more than 20 years experience. He discussed a recent case that the current law director settled for $50,000 to an incarcerated prisoner. The current law director failed to include attorney fees and it cost the county another $77,000
Bud Armstrong said he has reduced expenses of outsourcing attorneys. he took exception with Rowell’s statement about the attorney fees in the incarcerated prisoner, he said they challenged in court the attorney fees.
Property Assessor – Do you collect a state pension?
Weaver said yes
Law Director – The greatest challenge facing the law director?
Rowell most important they have defending the county, simply doing the job. advising the county, on sunshine law, on open records.
Armstrong truly the job itself, no enforcement powers, just counsel and advise.
Property Assessor – Will you maintain the current staffing levels?
Whitehead would not ask for more employees
Graybeal the office has fine young ladies and gentlemen, they are currently scared for their jobs, we have had a high turnover the last 8 years.
Weaver currently staffed with 47 employees, should be able to reduce staff, who leaves or goes not determined yet, will meet with everyone after the election.
Law Director – in laymen’s terms describe the job.
Armstrong says it is the chief manager of the law firm.
Rowell it is the county attorney, charged with representing the county, it is not a managerial position.
Property Assessor – what is the plans for technologically advancing the office
Graybeal the current computer system only works for property assessor, it needs to network with Register of Deeds, KGIS all users.
Weaver the office had major changes in 2012, with new assessments the county will have a reduction.
Whitehead the system installed in 2012 has serious issues, wood siding is vinyl siding and vinyl siding is wood. There are errors
Law Director How does the LD establish independence from County Commission
Rowell said the office is independent and the law director is advisory not policy making
Armstrong said the main way is when asked to make the statement this is a policy question not a legal one.