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Four ask to fill vacant Norris Council spot

At least four Norris residents have submitted requests to City Manager Scott Hackler to be considered for the vacant position on the City Council, which the council is expected to fill this coming Monday night (Nov. 8).

Hackler said that as of late Monday afternoon, the people seeking the council spot included:

• Chris Lawson of Hickory Trail, a businessman who now serves as a member of the Norris Recreation Commission.

• Robert Sain of Scruggs Cemetery Lane, a lawyer, who is not now a member of any city boards or commissions.

• Margueritte Wilson of Reservoir Hill Road, a retired state forester who serves on the Norris Water Commission, and is the Water Commission’s representative on the Norris Watershed Board.

• And Chuck Nicholson of Pine Place, a retired TVA employee who serves now as chair of the Norris Tree Commission.

Nicholson was outspoken in his opposition to the city manager’s decision this past summer to cut down the diseased historic elm tree in the Norris Commons.

Whomever is chosen – by a majority vote of the current four members of the council – will fill out the remainder of the two-year council term of Jill Holland Ryan, who was elected in November 2020, but resigned her position on Sept. 28.

Ryan submitted an email resignation to Hackler saying that she was moving out of the city, which would make her ineligible to continue serving as a council member.

The council formally accepted her resignation during its Oct. 11 regular meeting, and directed that Hackler begin the process to replace her. The person chosen to succeed her would serve until the next city election, in November 2022.

Ryan’s brief tenure on the council was somewhat stormy, as she clashed with Mayor Chris Mitchell and some other council members on certain issues, including the removal of the oak tree and a proposal from resident George Miceli that the city purchase the downtown business complex that includes Archer’s market and the post office.

She opposed cutting down the rotting tree, which Hackler chose to remove for safety reasons. She initially voiced approval for Miceli’s idea of having the city purchase the downtown buildings rather than to allow a private investor to buy them from their current owner.

Ryan, who teaches English at a high school in Knox County, is a Norris native who moved back to the city in 2018 with the specific purpose of running for City Council, she has said.

She came in second in the race for the five open council seats, among six candidates, in the 2021 city election, behind William “Will” Grinder.

Ryan was disappointed early on that she was not chosen by the rest of the council to serve as vice mayor based on her second-place finish in the balloting. On a split vote, the council declined to choose Ryan as vice mayor, and Grinder, who led all candidates in the vote, as mayor, which has been something of a tradition in Norris.

Instead, Mitchell, who came in a close third in the balloting, was chosen on a 3-2 vote to continue as mayor, and Councilman Bill Grieve, the fourth-place finisher, was selected as vice mayor.