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County commission set to fill vacancy

By Caitlin Rickard [email protected] • Updated Jan 24, 2014 at 10:45 PM

The Wilson County Commission is set to meet Monday at 7 p.m. with topics of discussion ranging from filling a District 18 commission vacancy to recent controversy surrounding Director of Schools Tim Setterlund.

In December, former District 18 Commissioner Adam Bannach resigned his seat on the commission after moving to a new home out of the district, so now the commission will look to fill the seat left by his absence.

According to state law, anytime a vacancy happens in an elected official’s position the commission is responsible for filling the vacancy. The individual chosen must receive a majority vote from the commission.

Any individual interested in the position must meet the qualifications outlined for holding public office under state law. Candidates must be 18 years old or older, a resident and qualified voter of District 18 and not have a felony. The district lines used in the 2010 elections will be used in determining eligibility for the vacancy per state law. 

In order to be considered, a commissioner must nominate someone from the floor and the public is not allowed to nominate, only recommend candidates.

After nominations, candidates will be allowed three to five minutes to address the commission.

Voting would then take place on paper ballots and all votes will be read aloud once all ballots are collected.

Once an individual receives 13 votes, the voting would be complete. If no one receives 13 votes, the candidate with the lowest vote total shall have his or her name – or names should there be a tie – removed. Voting would continue using the same process with the revised list of candidates until someone receives 13 votes and is selected.

The chosen candidate may then be sworn into office at the meeting and will begin serving immediately to fill the unexpired term, which runs through Aug. 31.

Additionally, the commission will also consider a vote of “no confidence” in Setterlund.

Commissioner William Glover recently filed a resolution expressing “no confidence” in Setterlund’s “continued leadership.” Glover said he’s expecting at least 13-14 other commissioners to cosponsor the measure.

“We kind of wanted to send out a message of, ‘We’re not happy with the direction that Dr. Setterlund is taking our county, with the firing of our hometown people, the lawsuits, the leading by intimidation and fear,’” said Glover. “The morale is extremely low right now.”

The resolution cites a list of complaints, stating “a number of actions that many County Commissioners feel have been harmful to our school system in particular and our county and its citizens in general.”

Actions include the creation of three new deputy director positions at salaries of $120,000 each per year and then continues to note two of the three positions were ultimately filled with “friends and employees of the Shelby County school system,” where Setterlund previously worked as a transition director during the merger of Shelby County with Memphis schools.

The resolution also details the dismissal of several longtime Wilson County schools employees.

Furthermore, the resolution notes Setterlund’s recent admission of drinking alcohol during school business hours and then operating his county-owned vehicle, “which appears to be a violation of Wilson County Board of Education policy and could expose Wilson County to additional liability.”

Before the commission meets Monday, the school board members will meet in a special called meeting Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Central Office at 351 Stumpy Lane in Lebanon to determine whether the board will accept Setterlund’s retirement, which was announced Friday afternoon.

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