A standing-room only crowd greeted the five elected county officials who came to Blount County Court House Tuesday morning to take the oath of office.
General Sessions Judge David Duggan was elevated to the Division II Circuit judgeship and Brad K. Long was sworn in as a new school board member representing District VI. Property assessor Mike Morton and Blount County School Board Districts II and IV members Chris Cantrell and John P. Davis Jr. started new terms.
U.S. Rep. John Duncan, Jr., said school board is particularly important since the legislature took away residents’ ability to elect school superintendents.
Duncan said that while officials are elected, they must listen to properly lead. “Those of us in elected office don’t have all the wisdom. We must listen to those we represent,” he said.
Duncan said the duty of all public officials is to represent their constituents and do what they think is right in carrying out that duty. “The officials you’ve elected and whom you will swear in today will do that,” he said.
Rob Goddard, master of ceremonies, praised Duggan for having the qualities that make a good judge - integrity, hard working and common sense. “In a nutshell, these describe David Duggan,” Goddard said. “I am proud to call him a friend.”
Goddard praised Morton for his service to the county. “It’s very important to have an honest, well-organized and well-run property assessor’s office,” he said.
Goddard said that since he has worked as attorney for the Blount County School Board he has gotten to know Cantrell well. “Chris is always well prepared on the issues that confront the school board. He makes insightful comments and contributes greatly to the work of the Blount County School board,” Goddard said.
As for John Davis, Goddard said he has known him a long time. “John truly has a servant’s heart,” he said.
Goddard said that while he didn’t know Long well, he was impressed with how he ran his campaign. “If he works as hard on school board, I’m sure he will be very successful,” he said.
Circuit Court Judge Dale Young swore in Duggan, Cantrell, Davis, Long and Morton.
As he prepared to swear in Duggan, Young told the audience that Duggan actually received the oath of office shortly after midnight on Sept. 1. “This oath is ceremonial,” Young said.
When asked why Duggan was sworn in at 12:02 a.m. on Sept. 1, Young would only say that the law provides that a judge be sworn in on the first of September. “If you’re already in office, you are technically a hold-over and have authority. Since Judge Duggan was not, we thought we better make it official,” Young said.
Following the ceremony, Young said he was elated to have Duggan as a partner on the Circuit Court with him.