The vote took place Tuesday during the board’s annual reorganization.
Wright, who represents East Knox County and is up for re-election next year, succeeds Brad Anders, who held the seat two years.He was previously the vice chairman.
“I’d like the commission to have a seamless transition from Brad to me,” Wright said.
The new chairman added that he “has no set agenda,” other than “wanting to take good care of the county’s business.”
Wright said he won’t seek the chairmanship next September when the spot comes open again.
The positions generally are symbolic, although the chairman runs the commission meetings and sets the monthly agenda. He or she also oversees the board's three-member staff, determines how the board's public meetings will be handled, and often serves as liaison between the public and the board.
The chair by default also serves on a number of boards, including the Great Schools Partnership and usually the pension board.
Commissioners can hold the seat twice during a term.
The vice chair carries out the chair's duties when he or she is not available and helps run board meetings.
Wright, a longtime Corryton resident, was appointed to the commission in February 2008 and won the 2010 race for the 8th District. He’s a University of Tennessee graduate who earned a degree in management. He also served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He later worked for AT&T.
Thomas, an at-large commissioner, was elected to his seat last year. He’s a well-known community figure. At one point during his 30-year career in media, he had the highest-rated midday radio show in America for 16 years, according to his official board bio.