By Mike Steely

Senior Writer

Knox County’s rural commissioners and the two new Democrats on the body came together Tuesday during the reorganization special session to elect Commissioner Larsen Jay as the new chairman.

Lots of behind the scenes campaigning went on before the four new commissioners were sworn to office earlier that Tuesday morning. Jay was nominated by new District 1 Commissioner Dasha Lundy and new District 4 Commissioner Kyle Ward nominated Randy Smith.

The 4 p.m. reorganization meeting saw Jay get the six votes needed from Commissioners Lundy, Courtney Durrett, Carson Dailey, Larsen Jay, Charles Busler and Richie Beeler. Beeler, who was home with COVID-19, attended via Zoom.

Voting for Smith were Commissioners Smith, Ward, John Schoonmaker, Terry Hill and Justin Biggs.

Chairman Jay said it will be difficult “filling the big shoes” of outgoing Chairman Hugh Nystrom, who chose not to seek re-election.

Following Jay’s election as chair he took the seat and called for nominations for vice chair.

District 2 Commissioner Durrett nominated Schoonmaker; Jay nominated Dailey; and Lundy nominated Smith. Smith pulled out in favor of Schoonmaker, who went on to receive seven votes with Jay and Dailey voting for Dailey and Busler and Beeler passing. Dailey and Jay then joined in supporting Schoonmaker, giving him nine votes.

The commission, with direction from newly elected Knox County Law Director David Buuck, then proceeded to fill in all the vacancies in various county committees.

Chosen to chair the Rules Committee and Insolvency Board was Charles Busler; Dailey will chair the Court Committee; Schoonmaker heads the Legislative Committee and Beeler will chair the Cable TV Committee. Smith was chosen to lead the Finance Committee.

Other assignments included Biggs to the Development Corporation, Ward to the Investment Committee, and Schoonmaker and Beeler to the Audit Committee. Dailey will serve on the UT Arena Use Committee, Jay on the Agricultural Committee, Beeler on the Public Records Commission, Durrett on the Insurance Benefits Committee and Kyle Ward on the Three Ridges Golf Board.

Additional committee and commission positions may be assigned in the new commission’s first full meeting or work session this month.

Commissioner Smith suggested a “mock meeting” of the commission for returning and new members and the idea was also applauded by Chairman Jay.

“The new chair would enjoy that also” Jay said.