Around the end of March/begining of April, our representative in the state senate, Rosalind Kurita, placed a survey in the Leaf Chronicle and said she wanted to hear from her constituents. One of the items in the survey was changing the state’s constitution to allow the constitutional officers to be elected in a public general election. Tennessee state constitutional officers are Secretary of State Riley Darnell, State Treasurer Dale Sims, and Comptroller John Morgan. I have not meet many people who know who they are, much less if they desrve to continue in their constitutional capacity. The constitution states that it is the legislature’s job to determine if these people are doing there job adequately; I mean they are in the best posistion to know right?
She correctly states that Tennessee is one of the few states that still has the state legislature elect these officers. Kurita has sponosored a bill every year for as far back as I can remember wanting us to decide who the best person for these jobs should be, and the bill has never gotten out of committeee. This year Kurita got the bill out of committee.
Each year when I hear that she is proposing to have us elect these constitutional officers, I write her, friends, family, and the local paper expressing why I think this is bad idea. This year is no different, see my letter below:
I would like to comment on your persistent attempts to change the way Tennessee elects its Constitutional officers. In past years, I have had letters published in the Leaf Chronicle against this idea and have not talked to anyone that thinks this is a good idea.
Tennessee’s constitution was designed so that the legislature would elect the constitutional officers, contrary to the clip they are playing on NPR this morning where you state they are “selected” by the legislature. The legislature is in the unique position of working with these officers on a daily basis. The legislature is designed by the state constitution to be the authority to determine if they should remain in or leave over these position
Having Tennesseans vote on whether the constitutional officers are doing a good job is assuming that Tennesseans know if they are doing a good job. With extremely low voter turn out in all elections, especially local elections for not well known positions, this idea would not seem to be prudent and definitely would not ensure that the best person for the job is selected because our knowledge base to elect them much smaller than the legislatures.
Turning the trusted positions into popularity contests hurts Tennesseans in a number of ways. First, it means that the officers (which work year ’round) would have to take time away from performing their duties and run a campaign. Secondly, Tennesseans could lose long term institutional knowledge that we have come to rely on. Can you imagine if William Snodgrass would have been defeated by lesser qualified candidate? The state government and Tennesseans would lose an immense amount of institutional knowledge that over the years proved very important over the decades Mr. Snodgrass served us.
Please take on your constitutional duties as assigned by our fore fathers and continue to internally ‘elect’ (not select) these officers for the good of all Tennesseans that rely on you and the legislature to make good sound decisions for us based on your unique, elected position.
As far as the other items in the survey, I am pro taxing cigarettes (as a former smoker) with the proceeds earmarked for our underfunded education system. By the way I am also for the state taking on the funding responsibility and relieving our local school boards of that problem. I think if we are to provide free community college tuition to students, we should first fully fund all college under the current formula.
And lastly I do not agree with the state stepping in on illegal immigration. I feel that immigration bills at the state, over 40 have been introduced, will in the long run, as in other states be found to be unconstitutional and/or flat out unenforceable.
Thank you for your years of service to me and all Tennesseans. If you having a email mailing list, that informs yopur constituents of your votes, activity and town hall meetings, I would very much appreciate being added to it.
The real letter had my address and contact info. That was the letter I sent April 4, 2007. I sent it to numerous people, most responded that they had not heard of this idea of having the general public vote on these officers and were VERY INTERESTED in hearing Sen. Kurita’s response, which I would have gladly forwarded. Today is April 13th, just over a week since I sent that letter. No response as of yet. So I sent another letter. See below:
I am disappointed that you have not responded to my response to your survey.
I, and others, looked forward to hearing your response, letting everyone know why you think this would be a good idea. We should all first understand the responsibility that we would bare if we elected these officers and since you want to bestow that responsibility to us, logic would follow you should also educate us to those responsibilities.
I just want to voice my opinion. She votes on my behalf, and yours. I would expect at leats some sort of response within a week, especially since she ran an ad in the paper asking for my input. I doubt if the response to an ad in the Leaf Chronicle has produced such an overwelming response that not even a staffer can respond.
I also included a link to this forum and this article. and requested that she respond to ALL OF US via this public forum. If I personally ever receive a response, that Senator Kurita does not post here, I will post it. However, I think it would be great if she posted her response, and by doing so inform us of what she is doing and why, instead of leaving that up to a spotty part time blogger like me.