By Mike Donila, WBIR
(WBIR-Knoxville) After seven years on the Knox County Commission, board vice chairman R. Larry Smith says he wants to wield the gavel.
On Tuesday, the commissioner became the first on the 11-member body to publicly announcement his intentions to seek the chairmanship.
"I'm not going to beat around the bush about it - the next year coming will be the last year I can serve on the commission, and if the other commissioners would like me to fill the spot, then I'd be honored,' said Smith, who is term-limited from running again.
Smith, a Republican who took office in September 2006, added: "I have no agenda that I'd like passed. I think I can conduct a meeting and keep everything fair between the citizens and the commissioners."
He currently represents the 7th District, which includes Powell, Halls and Heiskell; and he also served on the Metropolitan Planning Commission prior to joining the board.
The commissioner said he'll spend the next several days talking to other board members about the position. Already, he's scheduled a number of public meetings on Thursday, Friday and Monday with fellow members Sam McKenzie, Amy Broyles, Jeff Ownby, Brad Anders, Mike Hammond, Ed Shouse and Tony Norman.
Smith declined to say whether he would seek another elected office next year or in the future, but rumors inside local political circles suggest that he will run for either a school board seat or, possibly, the register of deeds position.
The commission chairman runs the meetings, sets the monthly agenda and oversees the board's three-member staff. The position also works closely with the county's law department, mayor, school superintendent and the chairperson for the Knox County Board of Education.
In addition, the chair by virtue of its position serves on the board of the Great School Partnership and often acts as the point person between the commission and the public.
Commissioners meet annually to reorganize. The chairmanship and vice chairmanship appointments are set for one year, but members can be re-elected to them. This year's meeting hasn't been set, but officials say it will be held in early September.
Last year, Norman, in a 6-5 vote, defeated Anders, who had previously served as vice chairman the previous two years. Norman replaced Hammond, who also held the spot for two years.
At that time, Smith also was picked to serve as vice chairman, a position that carries out the chair's duties when he or she is not available and helps run the commission meetings.
Norman said he will not seek the chairmanship again.