Bradley County Commission mulls district changes

Bradley County Commission mulls district changes

August 2nd, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Jeff Yarber

Bradley County Commissioner Mel Griffith

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Now is the time to talk about potential changes to the makeup of the Bradley County Commission, some members say.

The commission has 14 members with two representing each of the county's seven districts. What if, some say, the county had nine districts with one commissioner in each.

On Monday the commission agreed to take up the matter at a work session and invited the public to comment.

Like all counties, Bradley must redraw district lines based on the 2010 census before Jan. 1, 2012.

Commissioner Jeff Yarber said he wants to discuss the idea of change.

"A true conservative government is less government," Yarber said.

Fewer commissioners might save money, he said.

"I'm not saying anything is wrong with what we have. I just want to make sure this is the best way to go," Yarber said.

Commissioner Mel Griffith cautioned a change in the number of commissioners would have other effects, including the size of the county school board. Fewer commissioners in a growing population could mean more work for each commissioner, he said, and maybe calls for more compensation later.

"This has been working well for a long time. I see no reason to change it," Griffith said. "It seems odd that as the population grows, you shrink the number of people who serve them."

Commissioners Terry Caywood and Bill Winters said they heard public comments during their 2010 campaigns that people like having two representatives in their districts.

"I would like to know what my constituents think," said Connie Wilson.

"I'm for any plan that gets closer to one man, one vote," said Commissioner J. Adam Lowe.

Contact Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029