Knox County Commissioner Brad Anders
By Mike Donila, WBIR
Knox County Commissioner Brad Anders was picked Tuesday in a close vote to serve as commission chairman, a position he sought this time last year and narrowly lost.
He'll replace Tony Norman, who stepped down from the spot but will continue to serve as a commissioner.
Anders, who will wield the gavel for the next 12 months, said one of his top priorities include reaching out to top leaders on the Knox County School Board "and try to have open dialogue and improve the public perception of 'us against them.'"
Anders added that he would continue holding monthly work session and monthly commission luncheons, which give officials a chance to meet with department heads and other local leaders to talk more about county business.
The board picked Anders over R. Larry Smith, the vice chairman for the past year, in a 6-4 vote during its annual reorganizational meeting.
Commissioners Sam McKenzie, Amy Broyles, Anders, Mike Brown, Mike Hammond and Ed Shouse supported Anders.
Commissioners Dave Wright, Jeff Ownby, Tony Norman, Smith and picked Smith.
Commissioner Richard Briggs, a surgeon, was out of town on a medical trip.
"Brad is going to do a great job and I look forward to working with him," said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.
The commission chairman runs the meetings, sets the monthly agenda and oversees the board's three-member staff. The position also works closely with the county's law department, mayor, school superintendent and the chairperson for the Knox County Board of Education.
For the past couple of weeks, Anders and Smith set up individual meetings with commissioners, typically meeting for breakfast or lunch to seek support. In the end, though, some commissioners said they were concerned that Smith might use the position as a springboard to seek another elected position next year. Others, though, noted that since Smith was in his final year of a term-limited commission career, he should have the opportunity to lead the board.
The board, though, did unanimously pick Smith to again serve as vice chairman. He faced no opposition. The vice chair carries out the duties of the chair when he or she is not available, and helps run the board's meetings.
"I wish the best for Brad and I think we'll work well together," said Smith after the meeting.
When asked whether he'll seek another office, he said that "at this point for myself, I have nothing on the horizon. I feel like I've served my community well for the past eight years, but if something does present itself, I won't shut the door."
Likewise, Anders, whose current term doesn't expire until 2016, said it's too soon to think about the future.
"I'm not concerned about that just yet," he said.
Anders, 40, was first elected in August 2008 to fill a partial term. He was re-elected without opposition in August 2010 to serve a 6-year term, and served as the board's vice chairman two years ago. He represents the 6th District, the western part of the county, which includes Karns and Hardin Valley.
He also works as a Knoxville Police Department patrol lieutenant.
The commission reorganizes its board each September. Last year, Norman, a last minute candidate, narrowly defeated Anders in a 6-5 vote. Norman declined to run for the seat again, saying he had no interest anymore in it.