Interviewing for the Davidson County elections administrator position, Metro Councilman Eric Crafton and Tennessee State Fair Director Buck Dozier both rejected the notion that their political careers should discredit their candidacies for the job.
While voters at the Metro building on Second Avenue took advantage of the last day of early voting on Thursday, the five-member Davidson County Election Commission met down the hall to inerview seven candidates who hope to replace outgoing Elections Administrator Ray Barrett.
Commissioners left in the late afternoon without hiring an administrator. Election commission chair Lynn Greer said they plan to meet again Wednesday at 1 p.m. when there’s a “chance” a new administrator could be hired.
Some observers have suggested that Crafton and Dozier, the two applicants with the highest profiles, should be discarded from consideration because of their past and current political service –– the election office should be spared political nepotism is the rationale.
“You’re not appointing a politician,” Crafton told commissioners. “The day I’m the administrator of elections, I’m no longer a politician. I’m Eric Crafton, the administrator of elections.
Crafton, a Bellevue council member, is perhaps best known for his unsuccessful and controversial English-only push. Dozier, poised to lose his current job when the state fairgrounds closes, previously served as an at-large council member before launching a failed mayoral bid in 2007.
“A politician to me has a negative connotation,” Crafton said. “I consider being a council member community service. It’s not a politician. It’s not a political career. We make $7.86 an hour. I’ve attended literally 1,000 community meetings, boards, commissions and council meetings at the expense of my family. I don’t consider myself a politician.”
Dozier took a stance similar to Crafton’s.
“I don’t think so,” Dozier said when asked if there are any downsides to hiring a past politician to hold the position.
“Yeah, I’ve ran for office before and I’ve been elected before, but I’ve done other things as well. I’ve not spent my entire life in government by any means, ” Dozier said. “Have I been a politician? Yes, in the sense that I worked for government before. But, I don’t perceive myself that way and I don’t think the community perceives me that way at all.”
Crafton and Dozier generated the most buzz after the commission narrowed a list that began with 55 applicants down to seven. But the frontrunner could be Albert Tieche, who with four, garnered the most nominations. Tieche is a consultant at the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services.
Other applicants interviewed Thursday were Tom Cunningham, Matt Drury, Lisa Powers and Mike Knotts.