As always, any commentary I add will be in ITALICS.
"I write as County Attorney after your recent meeting and to follow-up my sending each of you a copy of my letter of inquiry to the CTAS legal staff last week. I have received a response from the attorneys at CTAS.
As a preliminary matter, CTAS advises:
1. “This is a difficult and complex issue”;
2. “The issue has not been researched before”; and
3. “After considerable time researching the issue, …the answer is not perfectly clear”.
I can certainly understand the sentiments expressed here since my own cursory review of the caselaw yielded little, if any , substance from which to form conclusions.
After I sent my letter of inquiry you received, the County Clerk further advised that in anotherpart of your County Commission Rules, , it provides that 13 votes is necessary to have a majority of the “legal membership” of the County Commission. After my own research, it became more clear that the Rules which the County Commission had adopted provided that in order to fill the vacant seat for the 4th District, 13 votes for one candidate were required. Further, CTAS has agreed with the interpretation of our Rules. Thus, the answer you received at the County Commission meeting was the correct answer based upon your Rules.
Next, the CTAS legal staff has now had the opportunity t research the Tennessee case law and statutes. Based upon a Tennessee case decided many years ago, the CTAS legal staff believes that only 12 votes is necessary to fill the 4th District position and that no further action is necessary. The thinking is that in our situation, 23 members would be the “legal membership” and 12 is a majority vote, even though our Rules state otherwise. Generally speaking, where local Rules are in conflict with State law (or its best interpretation), the State interpretation prevails.
In conclusion, following the CTAS reasoning, Ervin Brown has been elected by the Robertson County Commission to fill the vacant position as Commissioner from the 4th District. No further vote is necessary and I would assume he will be sworn in either at your June meeting or at such other time as the County Mayor may determine available. I would suggest the Nominating Committee meet and assign Commissioner Brown committee assignments such that he may begin his service to the County."
I will look forward to working with Commissioner Brown. I welcome the insight and expertise that he will bring to the Robertson County Commission.
And, I certainly applaud Mr. Wade for his willingness to serve. District 4 certainly presented us with a “good problem.” Of course, I mean that the Robertson County Commission faced the difficult task of choosing between two well-qualified gentlemen.