Community groups call for democracy in district 4 tiebreaker

The race for District 4 Knoxville city council seat ends with a tie for second place. City officials find a solution to solve the tie.

Concern is growing among Knoxville community groups about the tie for second place in the district four city council  primary race.

Harry Tindell and Amelia Parker tied for second in the district four race with 488 votes a piece.
Lauren Rider won a majority of votes in district 4, but only the top two candidates move on to the general election in November. 
 
Wednesday night, the Knoxville City Council will meet to decide how to break the tie between Tindell and Parker. 
 
According to a statement from Mayor Madeline Rogero, city council is responsible for either casting the deciding vote or calling for a run-off election under state law. However, Rogero's statement goes on to say that due to timing of the primary and general elections, there is not time to schedule a run-off election to break the tie in district four. 
 
This process is causing some concern among groups like the "2017 Knoxville City Council Movement." 
 
"Our basic stance is that voters should decide the outcomes of elections," Alex Fields, a member of the movement, said. "The main thing is that we want the city council to proactively explore ways that this could be resolved." 
 
Candidate Harry Tindell said he will accept the process city council decides to utilize to break the tie. 
 
"I think that, you know, I did the best job I can, and now it's in somebody else's hands," Tindell said. "I'll let them make that decision." 
 
However, candidate Amelia Parker said she questions whether the process needs to move as quickly. 
 
"Are there other options the city council could pursue to put this election back in the hands of voters?" Parker added. 
 
Nick Della Volpe, the current councilman for District 4, wrote on his Facebook page that it is city council's responsibility under law to decide how to break the tie. 

He wrote, "Council actions on the tie breaker will be as required by state law and the city charter as interpreted and advised to us by the election commission and the city lawyers -- Knoxville's charter says two candidates will move on to the city-wide general election coming up in November. The charter is adopted by the people and cannot be changed unilaterally by council." 

The city saw relatively strong turnout last month in the non-mayoral primary election, and community groups question whether a tiebreaker decision by city council will leave voters feeling disenfranchised. 

Tory Mills, a member of the 2017 Knoxville City Council Movement, said, "We think it's important to continue that process and continue to give people a platform to lift up their voices and to vote for candidates that they want to see elected." 

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero's statement echoed that sentiment saying, "...for future elections, I believe the laws should be changed so that voters have the final say. I have spoken with Vice Mayor Duane Grieve, and he agrees. My staff and I are exploring options that could require changes to both state law and the City Charter. Although tie votes are extremely rare, the current circumstances have highlighted the inadequacy of existing law."

City council will meet to decide how to break the tie at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 6th at the City-County Building. 

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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