Smith's oath an issue

Friday, March 4, 2011

Even the administration of Sam Smith's oath of office generated controversy.

County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett wouldn't administer the oath of office for Cornersville farmer Sam Smith, the county school board's newest member.

"The citizens of Marshall County ought to know that," County Commissioner Seth Warf said a day after 12 of 18 commissioners appointed Smith, despite a petition from 600 people alleging Smith's "main objective" isn't in "the best interest of the children... nor... for the future of Marshall County."

Liggett confirmed his position Wednesday.

"No I would not" swear in Smith, the county mayor said when asked.

Why not?

"I don't have to answer that," Liggett said. "I have my personal reasons."

People who want to know "ought to man-up," Liggett said, advising news media shouldn't be an intermediary. "If he wants to talk to me, he needs to come talk with me man to man."

Warf voted for Smith and alleged Liggett opposes Smith's re-entry to public service after he resigned from the county commission to avoid a conflict of interest over a land purchase option Smith sold for a landfill plan that's cancelled.

"I don't know what Joe's issues are," Smith said.

Some local political observers have speculated that Smith wants to run for mayor.

"No," Smith said while waiting for Judge Steve Bowden to become available for the swearing in ceremony. "I will not be running for county mayor."

Warf asked if Liggett administered the oath for other people ready to assume office. The county mayor has that authority. Others do, too.

"Joe and Daphne (Fagan, the county clerk,) asked me to take care of it," Commission Chairman Tom Sumners said Wednesday morning. "I took it for granted that as chairman of the commission that it was on my watch to take care of the situation.

"The law says you can use a judge, the mayor and even a notary, and I'm a notary," Sumners said. "I went with the judge. I took it on myself to do it and I had no problem with doing it:" arranging for someone to administer the oath.

Liggett and Fagan "recused themselves from doing it," Sumners said.

School board members have important duties, according to arf.

"We weren't picking someone from a popularity contest," Warf said. "It was to be for the most qualified."

Former school board chairman Jerry Campbell, a former Cornersville police chief, and Tommy Upton, a prominent Cornersville rancher, were also nominated.

Smith is primarily a dairy farmer with 1,000 acres. He also grows row crops.

The school board's curriculum committee was set to meet Thursday night and Smith said he planned to attend.

"I'm not on any committees yet," Smith said. "I'm pretty far behind (others on the board) so I've got to get up to speed as quickly as possible, so I'll attend as many committee meetings as I can."