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Facebook posts cost Ellis seat

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By Damon Lawrence

Roane County Commissioner Randy Ellis used Facebook to rally support against the property tax rate increases that were passed earlier this year. 
That didn’t sit well with Roane County Executive Ron Woody, who didn’t recommend Ellis for another term on the budget committee.
“Randy served, and he served well,” Woody said. “Randy did, however, try to rally a group for the public hearing on the blogs and Facebook, and I didn’t appreciate that.”
In July the commission voted to raise the tax rates for property owners in Kingston, Oliver Springs, Rockwood, Harriman and Oak Ridge. The increases were recommended by the budget committee, which is chaired by Woody.
Ellis, who represents the Harriman area, voted against the increases. 
“If I have to vote for Ron Woody’s tax increases to continue to be a member of the budget committee, then I don’t want to be a member of the budget committee,” Ellis said. 
Ellis added that he uses Facebook to keep his constituents informed about what’s going on in county government.
“I informed everybody on Facebook what the tax increase was going to be,” he said. “I told them when the public meetings were going to be and I encouraged them to attend because I had a lot of people in Harriman that did not want the tax increase.”
At Monday’s commission meeting, Woody sought to appoint Ron Berry, Bobby Collier, Jerry Goddard and Steve Kelley to the new budget committee, but those plans were scuttled when Berry abruptly withdrew from consideration.
“I know I told Mr. Woody when he talked to me that I would serve,” Berry said. “I think the committee and commission and everything else would be best served right now if I took myself out, and I would recommend that you put Mr. Ellis back on there.”
Woody withdrew his resolution instead.
“I called Ron, and he said he would serve,” Woody said. “It was a shock to me.”
Woody said he’ll see if either Copper Bacon or Benny East, two other Rockwood area commissioners, are interested in serving on the committee. If they turn it down then the Rockwood area could lack representation on the important committee. 
“Because Ron shocked me at the end, Rockwood might not be represented,” Woody said. “But I tried to represent them, and I’ll probably ask Benny (East) next. If the Rockwood commissioners decide that they don’t want to be represented then that’s what they’ve done.”
In other business, the commission re-elected James Brummett as chairman. Ellis was elected chairman pro tempore.