The general public really doesn't care who runs the county's election office.
Until someone screws up.
But, word once again is going around the Knox County Deathstar that Elections Administrator Greg Mackay, left, is on his way out.
That's because politicians do care who runs the office.
And Mackay messed up. He's a Democrat.
(And before anyone starts with that “liberal-media” crap, I'm on the record as saying “both sides annoy me.” But I digress.)
Here's the gist:
Members of the State Election Commission appoint their local-level counterparts. The selections, however, are based upon recommendations from the state Legislative delegation for that respective county. The Republican caucus makes the Republican selections, and the Democratic caucus picks the Democrats.
Then the state rubber stamps the recommendations. (Because it's too time-consuming for anyone in the state to actually do real work.)
The delegations make the picks during the off-election year, meaning it's going to happen probably in late march. The new commission (it's still new even if all the same members are reappointed) then reorganizes. It's five members pick a peer from the majority party (Republicans) to serve as chairman, and the minority party (Democrats) select the secretary.
A little history:
A few years ago, local officials urged the county's state lawmakers to see to it that a Republican was appointed to Mackay's job, in light of the then-new GOP-majority county Election Commission.
After a lot of publicity, bickering, headlines, crying, blah, blah, blah, the commission in a 3-2 vote kept Mackay.
That was only because one Republican – Paul Crilly – crossed over. People haven't forgotten. So, Crilly is probably out, too.
Back to the present:
This morning, I asked state Rep. and Chairman of the local Legislative delegation Ryan Haynes, above right, about his thoughts.
He didn't offer much. The usual political rhetoric.
But, he did say: “I don't think it's any secret that a lot of people were upset about (Crilly crossing over).”
He also said the delegation probably in the next few weeks will send out a "press release," seeking applications.
As it stands, he said, the two Democrats – state Rep. Harry Tindell and state Rep. Joe Armstrong – plan to keep the same Democrat members on the commission.
The Republicans get three picks, and since there's eight of them in the delegation, they'll have to do a little haggling amongst themselves to figure out just who they want. Or don't want.
“I think it's important to wait and see who puts their name in a hat and give them an opportunity to speak with us before making any decisions,” Haynes told me when I asked about his checks.
So, what about Mackay? You going to keep him?
“That's up to the election commissioners to decide.”
Yeah, but you have some stroke, right?
“No, not at all.”
“No, really, it's truly up to the election commissioners. I think it's important that we appoint them because we feel confident that they have the expertise and knowledge – they're in the system day-in and day-out. They get it. We don't.”
So, what do you think about Mackay?
“I think he serves his community well.”
Heh. Yes, but he also serves at the pleasure of the election commission. And they can meet and fire the administrator pretty much any time.
I suppose we'll all see what happens. Last time it was a mess.
I'm sure things won't be much different this time.
I figure most people are happy with the way the elections are run and how the office is run.
But the Democrats were in charge for so long in running the election commission in a Republican County that there's a lot of resentment between the old guard and the new one.
Mackay has done a good job. But a lot of people feel there should be a Republican administrator.
I don't care.
I don't vote, anyway.