Nepotism policy is shared by many municipalities

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By Natasha LaFayette



A nepotism ordinance passed by the city of LaFollette with three votes has been changed to exclude the mayor and council.

At the Tuesday night meeting Mayor Mike Stanfield read the ordinance, with the change.

“We discussed changing the policy to delete mayor and council,” said Stanfield prior to reading the ordinance.

The policy remains the same with the exception of the mayor and council, being exempted; this is in line with Councilman Hansford Hatmaker’s original proposal.

After the policy was read, the council voted identical to their votes in the last meeting concerning the nepotism policy.

Hatmaker and Councilman Joe Bolinger voted in favor of the policy with Councilmen Bob Fannon and Wayne Kitts opposing the ordinance. Stanfield broke the tie for both the first and second reading of the ordinance, allowing the policy to be adopted.

While the nepotism policy in LaFollette has been in place for several administrations, Bolinger previously stated the policy is restrictive given the size of the city.

The county is the only local government that does not have a nepotism policy. County Commissioner Forster Baird said it would be difficult for the commission to impose restrictions on the county departments run by elected officials.

“I think everyone needs a nepotism policy,” said Baird. “But I don’t think you could get all the people involved in it.”

While the county funds employment, Baird said the elected officials could do whatever they want with hiring and firing.

“We fund it, but they can do whatever they want,” said Baird. “I don’t think the county commission should tell elected officials who to hire and fire.”

Though the county does not have a nepotism policy, every other municipal body in Campbell County has a nepotism policy in place.

Jacksboro, Caryville and Jellico have the inclusion of the mayor and aldermen in their policies.

Jacksboro Mayor Jack Cannon said the policy, established in 2001, helps to eliminate favoritism over the candidates.

Cannon stated the mayor and aldermen serve in both an administrative capacity and policy making with the ability to hire and fire employees.

The policy Jacksboro has in place is derived from federal guidelines, saying no immediate family of mayor, council, administrator and department heads will be considered for employment unless there are no other qualified applicants.

The definition of immediate family in the Jacksboro policy includes aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces.

“Our main goal is to make sure there is no favoritism because if someone is related to council there will be no twisting arms (to get them hired),” said Cannon.

Caryville Mayor Robert Stooksbury said the board of mayor and aldermen have not come across any problems with their policy, but they only have about 12 employees.

“The policy keeps down any conflicts, potential conflicts or the perception of favoritism with employees,” said Stooksbury.

The Caryville policy states no immediate family of an existing employee or elected official can be hired by the city.

Stooksbury further stated the board hires and fires strictly based on qualifications.

Though Baird said the county government runs into problems implementing a policy, he commented on Jellico’s policy as the town mayor.

In effect for about five years, Baird said the board of mayor and aldermen has followed the policy as strictly as possible.

“You are never going to get rid of nepotism completely,” said Baird. “For specialized positions we have to choose the most qualified.”

The nepotism policy in Jellico provides no exceptions for employment of relatives.