Davidson County Chancery Court Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman sided with the Davidson County Election Commission and the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County on Wednesday, ruling that the special mayoral election will be held on August 2 rather than May 1.
Jamie Hollin, the attorney for mayoral candidate Ludye Wallace, “argued that ‘general Metropolitan elections’ only occur once every four years, during the regularly-scheduled mayoral election. The next one of those has been scheduled for August 2019. Under that interpretation, a special election would need to be held in May because August 2019 is more than a year after Mayor Barry resigned,” News Channel 5 reported, adding:
But attorneys for Metro’s legal department argued that the upcoming August 2018 General Election also qualifies as a “general Metropolitan election,” saying that the term is not exclusive to the Mayoral election held every four years. Under that interpretation, the mayoral election question would be added to the ballot this August.
In her ruling, Chancellor Bonnyman said previous court rulings have used the broader interpretation of the election term, indicating that it can apply to more than just the mayoral elections held every four years.
You can watch the complete video of the one hour hearing here:
After Metro Legal made its argument, attorney Hollin delivered his response (beginning at 37:05 in the video above).
“Let’s look at 15.02 [of the Metro Charter]. It says that in the general metropolitan election those qualified persons who receive the majority of the votes cast for mayor, vice mayor, district councilman for each of the 35 council districts shall be elected to their respective offices. And those five qualified persons who receive the highest number of votes being also the majority of the total votes cast for council member at large shall be elected to those offices,” Hollin began.
“So we’re talking about the general metropolitan election,” he continued.
“Last time it happened was August 2015. The next time it happens is going to be August 2019,” he explained.
“Next sentence: In the next general election . . .” Hollin said, pausing for effect then pointing to a screen that showed the actual language of Metro Charter Section 15.02, then continued:
“NOT one of these August 2018 races . . . That’s not what this means. ‘In the general election.’ That was talking about the leading sentence of the paragraph preceding,” he continued, adding:
Because what happens?
If no candidate receives a majority vote of those cast for those offices, then what do we have in Metro?
We have a runoff election.
To take [Metro Legal counsel’s] argument to its conclusion, that would mean there’s runoffs in those [August 2018] county general elections for the offices of what, Register of Deeds?
Juvenile Court Clerk?”
“No, that does not apply. Those are plurality elections,” Hollin concluded.
“In an interview following the ruling, Hollin said it’s possible the decision could be appealed directly to the Tennessee Supreme Court. It’s unclear how quickly the court would agree to hear the case,” NewsChannel 5 reported
“Stay tuned,” Hollin told NewsChannel5.