Letter to the Mayor regarding discrimination against women on the Commission

There has been a longstanding history of discrimination against women serving on the commission.  In 2010 the local Republican machine made defeating former Commissioner Wendy Pitts Reeves their top priority.  The machine succeeded.  She was replaced by Jerome Moon, who is now in his 4th year as Chairman of the Blount County Commission.

This year the local Republican machine made defeating commission candidate and citizen activist Linda King their number one goal.  They succeeded.  We have to deal with surly Gary Farmer as a result.  The man lives with a perpetual scowl on this face.  Various comments made to me have made it clear that I will be the number one target of the local Republican establishment if I choose to seek reelection in 2018.

A review of the Budget Committee packets online, dating back to 2001, lead me to discover that only one female commissioner has served on either the Budget Committee or the Purchasing Commission this millennium.  Donna Dowdy was nominated by a woman: Mayor, Beverly Woodruff.  In reviewing commission minutes at the courthouse, it appears that the last time a woman commissioner served on either of these Committees, absent a woman mayor, was in the early 1990’s.  Thus, it’s evident that there is longstanding discrimination against women on the county commission.

I brought the matter to the attention of the mayor.  He has responded by taking an unprecedented step while still discriminating against the women on the commission.  He is going to nominate an unelected woman to serve on the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission since State law allows for non-members of the commission to serve on those bodies.

His nomination will be his friend, Sharon Hannum.  Mitchell is trying to save face by doing this, but the thinly veiled discrimination against the three women serving on the commission continues.  Mitchell will control Hannum like a puppet on a string, which is exactly what he wants.

Mitchell was against the county seeking the common sense fixed rate financing.  Listen to Mitchell’s long hesitation to vote yes on seeking fixed rate financing during the November Budget Committee meeting.  The four commissioners voted yes, yes, yes, yes without any delay in time.  Mitchell finally caved to save face.  He wanted to keep the casino gambling style financing because it left in place balloon principle payments not due until 2030 and 2031.  His reason for hesitation is obvious.

Beginning next fiscal year, the county will have to make larger payments on the Series E-3-B debt because it will be paying on the principle and the interest.  Mitchell wanted to continue funding the waste in his departments instead of biting the bullet to pay down debt.  Commissioners were getting complaints from their constituents, for good reason, that it was absurd to have not paid a single penny on the principle for 13 years.  Thus, the commission did the right thing in seeking responsible fixed rate financing.

Putting Hannun on the Budget Committee could give Mitchell a vote in his favor the next time he wants to kick the can down the road.  She will answer to him for reappointment and not to the people because she is elected by no one.  Allowing the Mayor to appoint someone, who will make critical financial decisions for the County, without answering to the voters is a bad idea.

Mitchell is refusing to end the dark history of discrimination against women serving on the commission.  His September nominations did not include a single woman on the commission.  Tell him what you think.  273-5700  emitchell@blounttn.org

Tona Monroe
County Commissioner, District 7 Seat B
853 Marble Lane Greenback, TN 37742
(865) 856-0814

Ed Mitchell Blount County Mayor
341 Court Street
Maryville, TN 37804

December 22, 2014

Dear Mayor Mitchell,

Earlier this year, I informed you of the lengthy history of discrimination against women on the commission serving on the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission.  You have decided to continue discriminating against the people of Blount County, who elected three women to serve as their commissioners, by taking the unprecedented move of nominating an unelected woman, who you will control because she answers to you and not to the people.

It is the people’s business that we are tending to, but rather than honoring the voters’ choices you have invented a new way to perpetuate a longstanding problem of discrimination against women serving on the county commission.  This takes the problem to a whole new level because your decision makes the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission a step removed from the voice of the people of Blount County.

During the general election, the Blount County Republican Party gave money to several men facing challengers, but gave nothing to the women facing challengers.  Gary Farmer received $5,000.  This was such a large contribution that he actually returned over $1,500 back to the Republican Party.  Jamie Daly, who faced a well funded opponent in the general election, would have benefited from the unused money given to Gary Farmer.

Furthermore, during the general election at the courthouse, your treatment of the women now serving on the commission was disdainful.  You catered to the men running for office; asking them if they needed anything, while scornfully driving past the women without even speaking.  And, you were not the only Republican expressing resentment toward the women candidates.

Some Democrats say that there is a Republican war against women.  Unfortunately, this appears to be the case regarding the ladies elected by the people to serve on the commission.  I hope that you will prove the Democrats wrong; by ending your discrimination against the elected women commissioners serving on the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission.


Tona Monroe


Cc: Blount County Republican Party, Blount County Republican Women, Blount County Democratic Party, League of Women Voters, The Daily Times, Knoxville News Sentinel, State Senator Doug Overbey, State Representative Art Swann, State Representative Bob Ramsey, Chris Devaney Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, Republican National Committeewoman Peggy Lambert, Republican National Committeeman John Ryder, Republican State Committeeman Rob Ailey, Republican State Committeewoman Susan Mills, WBCR AM 1470, The Knoxville Journal, WBIR, WVLT, WATE, The Rude Awakening


Related articles: http://www.bcpublicrecord.com/?p=5661

8 thoughts on “Letter to the Mayor regarding discrimination against women on the Commission

  1. Back in the summer of 2014 I allowed the Tax Revolt citizens to talk me into running for a county commission seat. I lost by 6 votes. In hindsight, I’m glad I wasn’t elected. Real estate and literature ( writing novels ) are my life. Dealing with that herd of Political Dingbats would have sent me to the psyche ward at Peninsula Hospital.
    Good luck, Tona !!

  2. Larry,

    I believe I know what you meant to say in the above comment. You were giving Tona a compliment of sorts because she has taken the initiative to take on the political machine in Blount County. But are you aware that you basically just said “I am glad I wasn’t voted in because the job would have been too hard for me.” If I had voted for you (I live in a different district, but I would have) I would have been voting for someone who didn’t really want to run for office (it sounds like the Tax Revolt Citizens talked you into it) and then I am not so sure with that statement that you would have been able to do the job well. That just ruined your chances for running for any political party in the future.

  3. Tona, none of this surprises me. It might be worth it to do a little research and see what kind of promotions he gave to women while he was Fire Chief. He may just be too inept as a manager to be aware of diversity. He may need a little diversity training. I think you are providing a very good first step in that regard.

  4. Corruption in official government is like a rolling stone, it gathers more political stench as it rolls downhill. There are too few of you, Tona, who could eventually remove the stench over time.

    All I have ever observed is three Lady Commissioners of Light whose graceful dignity is a blessing for our People of Blount County.

    I appreciate You Tube because I am able to watch commission meetings at home.

    • Before the election I went into the Mayor’s office to question him on two of the candidates running for office. One was presently a commissioner and the other was a candidate. His reply to me was a complete untruth but the worse part of it was his secretary, who I always admired backed him completely with his lies.

      Tona your letter is excellent. Keep up the good work.

  5. Tona,
    I think you are doing an excellent job. My parents were very impressed with your desire and enthusiasm to represent the people honestly. Also they were happy you made efforts to get out and come to people’s houses and introduce yourself and your intent to represent them. This kind of zeal could be mirrored by other candidates and more would get done to lead our county in a positive direction. Lower taxes , and responsible spending are definitely what the county needs. Keep up the good work !!

  6. Pingback: The heart of the matter: Is Mitchell stacking the deck against fixed rate financing? | Blount County (BC) Public Record

  7. Pingback: Discrimination against the women on the commission | Blount County (BC) Public Record

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