Making his case to become new Law Director during a Concord-Farragut Republican Club candidates forum Thursday, Feb. 6, David Buuck said, “I bring to you, if you choose to elect me, 40 years of experience day-in-and-day-out representing clients — the last seven-and-a-half of those years I’ve been in the Knox County Law Director’s office (Chief Deputy), so I have great experience in that.”
“We have been good in that office, that we have reduced costs to that office and saved the taxpayers over $8 million,” he added about the office headed by director Richard “Bud” Armstrong.
Moreover, “More importantly, I think the greatest thing that we did (was) we found out, after we got in office, (about) the tragic thing that happened at Inskip School prior to the time we came into office,” he said about the shooting of a teacher “permanently impaired, her whole life ruined.
“At that time there was no worker’s compensation coverage for teachers,” Buuck added. “For some reason there was none — every other employee in Knox County was covered by worker’s compensation. … It takes care of workers’ on-the-job injuries.
“This young lady didn’t even have enough from the county, that we could do legally at the time, to pay her medical bills — it wasn’t even close.”
Working with Knox County and state elected officials when taking office, “We worked hard to come up with a way to get her what we call worker’s compensation-like benefits, to take care of this teacher.” Buuck said.
“After that we said, ‘this can’t go on, we’ve got to get coverage for the teachers, they’ve got to have worker’s comp coverage,” he added.
A resident of Knox County since 1990, “I want to be Law Director because I want to affect a change in the office after what I’ve seen occur in the recent past,” said Cathy Quist Shanks, Republic candidate in the Tuesday, March 3, GOP Primary.
“I think the Law Director’s office should be the general counsel role, I believe that’s what the charter contemplates when it says that the Law Director shall be the legal officer for the county to handle the legal affairs for the county ... ,” she added.
As for Shanks’ qualifications, “I’ve been licensed to practice law in Tennessee for 31 ½ years,” she said. “Three years in the private practice of law, including transactional practice and a litigation practice. I served in the law department under an elected Law Director for seven years, representing the school system, the Sheriff’s (Office), the other agencies with Knox County Government.”
In addition, “I was elected to serve as the Republican Knox County Civil Sessions and Juvenile Court Clerk for five terms,” Shanks said. “And I managed the dockets for nine judges and seven magistrates in that time. I also leveraged my legal education and experience to improve the visitation of court records to make them more accessible to the public,” she added.
In fact, “This is what brought me to (being a candidate), is watching what was happening with the TVA Tower issue, with the Law Diretor suing the Retirement Board — a lawyer suing his own client and spending $1 million in taxpayer funds,” Shanks said. “And being unsuccessful.
“And using his campaign treasurer as his lawyer and not even filing the lawsuit himself,” she added. “... 14 deputies were sued, and two of them were widows of deceased deputies — to tie up their retirements.”
Having never previously run for elected office, Jackson Fenner said he’s running for Knox County Law Director, as an Independent (August General Election), “because I want to serve the county where I live, it’s really that simple. It’s public service, I’ve always been drawn to public service.
“I’ve been in private practice for nine years ... nine years is longer than Bud Armstrong had been practicing before he took office,” Fenner said in comparison to the current Law Director.”
About his ownership of Fenner Law Firm, Bank of America Towers Suite 600, 550 W. Main St. in Knoxville, “I have an all-purpose law firm, so I do some criminal, I do some family law, I do personal injury, property disputes I do. A whole lot of everything,” he said.
“I’m efficient, I’ve always been able to tackle new areas of the law, new types of law, and be successful at it,” he added. “I’ve never been afraid to take on a new type of law, a new type of challenge.”
As for specifics, “I run a lean practice, I run a tight ship,” Fenner said. “I think I can bring some of that efficiency to the office.”
Criticizing Armstrong, “The whole Law Enforcement Pension Lawsuit was frustrating to me the way that was handled,” he said. “That’s really what was the triggering event for me to decide that we need somebody else in there.
“I just don’t think that was handled in a way that did a good service to the people of Knox County,” Fenner added. “I think we wasted a lot of money.”
Moreover, “We need people in there who are from private practice who know how to run an office,” he said.