Hamilton County Commission considering more closed school board interviews

Hamilton County Commission considering more closed school board interviews

March 6th, 2012 by Kevin Hardy and Ansley Haman in News

In this file photo, Everett Fairchild listens during a meeting of the Hamilton County School Board in the superintendent's conference room.

In this file photo, Everett Fairchild listens during...

The Hamilton County Commission is preparing to launch its process for replacing District 3 school board member Everett Fairchild.

And it appears commissioners will follow a private interview process similar to the one used during the recent appointment of attorney David Norton as a General Sessions judge.

Fairchild has announced he will step down March 15 because of health problems. Commissioners then have 120 days to appoint someone to serve the rest of his term until 2014.

Commission Chairman Larry Henry said the panel will lay out the appointment process for his replacement at its Wednesday meeting.

"We'll probably do it similar to what we did with the judge," Henry said Monday.

That process, which began in early February, included a 10-day application period followed by two weeks for commissioners to interview applicants individually. Commissioners cast a single vote last Thursday with no public discussion about the candidates.

That's what worries Commissioner Greg Beck. He wants a public interview process similar to the one commissioners conducted for magistrate applicants last fall.

"Unless they're public interviews, I'm not going to take part this time," he said. "We can do it all in public."

Both interim District 3 Commissioner Mitch McClure and Marty Haynes, the candidate challenging McClure in today's Republican primary, said the process should involve a public forum held in District 3.

"I'd like to do some sort of forum," McClure said.

Haynes said any public forum should allow residents to interview applicants.

"When we had the appointment process to replace [former District 3 Commissioner] Jim Coppinger, commissioners asked most of the questions," he said.

Mitzi Yates, the lone Democrat in the District 3 special election set for August, said commissioners should take a further step and interview candidates in public.

Though Henry said he doesn't see the body holding public interviews or a forum, "that doesn't mean one of the PTA organizations might not want to have a forum."

Commissioner Tim Boyd also supports public input.

"I think it creates a suspicion from the public, whether there's anything going on or not," Boyd said. "If it's in the open, then you're not going to have that veil of suspicion there."

Meanwhile, at least three individuals have thrown their name into the hat for consideration -- parents Mendi Catlett, Jamie Goebel and Ken Smith.

McClure said he's been contacted by as many as nine potential candidates since Fairchild announced his intention to resign.

Contact staff writer Ansley Haman at ahaman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6481. Contact staff writer Kevin Hardy at khardy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249.