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Tyree ‘write-in’ in sheriff’s seat race

Former Knoxville Mayor Randy Tyree will run against Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison in the upcoming Democratic primary May 2 as a write-in candidate.

Knox County Administrator of Elections Greg Mackay said Tyree would be a write in candidate on the ballot. His name will not officially be on the ballot due to Tyree’s lack of proper paperwork from the Police Officers Standards and Training, but he will run in the election.

Mackay said the question being looked at by county and state attorneys is which standard to use for the voting process. He said a state law states only 25 write-in votes are needed to allow Tyree to run in the Aug. 3 election, but a state Supreme Court decision says five percent of the voters in the primary need to choose Tyree as a write-in candidate.

“We’re still trying to establish which standards will be used,” Mackay said. “We’ve got our law director and the state attorneys looking into it.”

Tyree said he is waiting for the final outcome of this decision and is gearing up for the election.

“Virtually every election I’ve run has been run against an incumbent,” he said, when asked about running against an established candidate. “I see where things ought to be better and can be better. This campaign of mine, in the literal sense, will not be against Tim. This is a campaign for the sheriff’s department. My disagreements with Tim are not personal in nature.”

Tyree said one of the reasons he has chosen to run is “to get back to his true love, law enforcement.” A native of Middle Tennessee, Tyree said he spent 12 years in law enforcement, including among others, stints with the Knoxville Police Department and the FBI.

“The department has about nine hundred and seventy-five employees and I just have sensed, particularly with the city and the county, relationship bridges have been burned,” he said. “There’s a real morale problem among the officers on the street and the corrections department. Having been there, I can relate to the difficulties they have.”

One of the policy disagreements Tyree has with Hutchison is over the issue of career development. He said the position of sheriff sometimes makes it difficult for other officers to enhance their careers.

“If they want a career as sheriff, if they want to continue to be re-elected, it makes it tough on them to really put in career development programs to get focused on training and management techniques, and not be tied down so much with being in politics on the county commission level,” he said. “In a nutshell, I think the only politics a sheriff needs to be playing is to enhance the sheriff’s department in a professional way. That includes amendments for better pay for the employees, better recruiting methods and making sure the force is competitive.”

Tyree said his experience in 1971 as safety director for the City of Knoxville would be used to help officers. In that position, he said he established Operation Aquarius, a program, which facilitated the arrest of 180 drug dealers in Knoxville. Tyree also established a career development program for officers in KPD.

“My efforts as sheriff will be in terms of finding ways of accentuating the positive and identifying those elements we have in common with the K-P-D, the state, the F-B-I, etc,” Tyree said. “I doubt seriously I would ever find myself in the position to where any member of the county commission had to sue me or I had to sue them. That, from a policy standpoint, is the worst possible thing that could happen to a professional agency.”


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