The Daily Times is reporting that Brad Harrison has been disqualified from running for Blount County Highway Superintendent by the Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board (THOCB). The Board voted 4-1 that he didn’t meet the requirements in State law to be eligible for the position.
From the article:
State law sets the minimum qualifications for highway superintendent as:
• Graduation from an accredited school of engineering with at least two years experience in highway construction or maintenance; or
• Licensed to practice engineering in Tennessee; or
• A combination of education and experience equivalent to either of the first two requirements; or
• A high school education or GED and at least four years experience in a supervisory capacity in highway construction or maintenance.
This raises the question of whether Bill Dunlap, the incumbent, met these requirements when he took office or whether he was grandfathered. Paul L. Reagan, of Friendsville, withdrew his petition to run for Sheriff because he doesn’t meet the law enforcement requirements under State law. Judges, with a limited exception for Municipal Courts that can assess penalties of no more than $50, are required to be attorneys under State law.
While these requirements seem like a good idea prima facie, they are actually incumbent and good ole boy protection. Dunlap is in a position to ensure that any employees he doesn’t trust won’t have the necessary 4 years of supervisory experience as is the Sheriff. Experience would have to be obtained outside the County one lives in, in order to challenge the incumbents. As for Judges having to be attorneys, it’s insanity to give attorneys a monopoly over anything, nearly an entire branch of government, as the Tennessee General Assembly has.
These laws need to be changed. A lesser pay scale would be a good incentive for officer holders to obtain experience. However, Sheriff Be-Wrong (James Berrong) created his own police academy; therefore, I am not sure how valuable that experience actually is.
Bottom line, it’s should be up to the voters to decide, although they haven’t been doing a very good job on the races that don’t have these qualification requirements. Perhaps sortition or abolition of government are in order.