The voters of the 13th District of the Washington County Commission will fill a vacancy on the board in the Nov. 3 election.
Gary McAllister announced last month he was resigning from the commission effective July 31. McAllister, who was re-elected to a second four-year term to the commission in 2018, is moving out of the 13th District.
Washington County Attorney Allyson Wilkinson has provided commissioners and County Mayor Joe Grandy with a memorandum outlining state law on filling the vacancy.
In it she notes “the legislative body is required by statute to fill a vacancy within 120 days of receiving notice of the vacancy, unless ‘during that period there is a general election scheduled in the county and there is sufficient time for the vacancy to be placed on the ballot’” in accordance with the state law.
Wilkinson also referenced Tennessee Code Annotated 5-1-104(b)(2) that provides: “If the vacancy occurs less than 60 days before the August election, but 60 days or more before the November election, then nominees of political parties shall be selected by party convention and a successor elected in the November election.”
Wilkinson pointed to a state attorney general’s opinion involving a similar case in Knox County.
“In 2008, Knox County faced the same issue presented by Commissioner McAllister’s resignation when a seat on the County Commission became vacant and presented the question of whether the ‘next general election’ was the November 2008 general election or the August 2010 general election,” Wilkinson wrote. “Citing McPherson (v. Everett) the Tennessee Attorney General considered the affirmative legislative action of enacting T.C.A. § 5-1-104(b)(2) and determined that the vacancy occurred within the time period set out in the statute which meant that the vacancy should be filled pursuant to a special election on the November 2008 state and federal election ballot with political parties choosing their nominees accordingly by way of countywide nomination convention.”
Wilkinson also said that “based on the plain meaning of the statutory language and the 2008 opinion of the Tennessee Attorney General, it is my opinion that the Washington County Board of County Commissioners is not required to make an appointment to fill the District 13 vacancy within the 120-day period (ending Nov. 28) because a general election is scheduled for Nov. 3, and the vacancy occurs within the statutory time frame which requires party convention to select nominees.”
As such, the County Commission seat will be placed on Washington County’s Nov. 3 ballot. Republican and Democratic nominees will be chosen beforehand by their respective parties, and must meet the noon Aug. 20 qualifying deadline.
Independent candidates for the seat will also be expected to meet the same qualifying deadline.
Commission Chairman Greg Matherly said Friday the commission plans to send a resolution to the the Washington County Election Commission notifying it of the need to fill the vacancy.
Matherly said the new member will be sworn in once the results of the Nov. 3 election are certified.
In the meantime, Matherly said the commission will conduct its business with 14 members.