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Posted on: July 27, 2021

UPDATED: Council expected to fill vacant seats in September

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(Correction: Richard Garrett was re-elected to the City Council in 2018, not 2020, and this update corrects election-sequence information in the seventh paragraph.)

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. –  City Council members will choose two new members in September to replace two Councilpersons who resigned last week.

Mayor Joe Pitts, after discussions with the City Clerk and City Attorney and reviewing the City Charter and Codes, outlined the steps the City Council will take to fill the vacancies. 

“The Charter is specific in how we must go about filling the vacancies, so we look forward to the process unfolding over the coming weeks,” Mayor Pitts said. “I’m sure there are some qualified citizens in Wards 1 and 5 who will be interested in applying for these appointments.”

Questions about residency prompted the resignations last week of Ward 1 Councilperson Richard Garrett and Ward 5 Councilperson Jason Knight.

Garrett resigned on July 22 after the District Attorney’s Office filed two separate civil lawsuits regarding claims he has lived outside his ward since 2020. In a separate matter also involving residency questions and other issues, Knight resigned from his seat on July 23.

The City Charter and City Code outline the qualifications for Council members and the process used to fill a vacancy for a City Council position. 

The Clarksville City Charter says the City Council shall fill a Council vacancy by a majority vote of the entire City Council. The appointed members will serve until the next City election in November 2022.  Garrett was elected to a four-year term in 2018 and Knight was elected to a four-year term in 2020, so  Ward 1 voters in 2022 will choose a candidate to fill a full four-year term, and voters in Ward 5 will choose a candidate to fill the seat until November 2024, for the remainder of the unexpired term.

Qualifications

Candidates applying to fill a vacancy on the City Council must be qualified in accordance with the Clarksville City Charter and general state law.  A City Councilman must be a resident of the City of Clarksville; be at least 18; have resided in the City for 12 months; and reside in and be qualified to vote in the ward to which they seek appointment.

Application process

The City Clerk will publish a notice of the specific vacancy. Within 60 days of the vacancy, all qualified applicants must appear before the Council at a regularly scheduled meeting, which in this case will be Sept. 2,  to make known their intention to apply to fill one of the vacancies. 

Applicants may make a brief statement to the City Council at the meeting about their desire to serve on the Council -- including their background, education, training, employment, military service, volunteer work, and other matters appropriate to an evaluation of their application --  and they may answer questions from Council members.

Within 14 days of that meeting, the mayor will call a special meeting of the council for the purpose of appointing an applicant to fill the vacancy. 

Only those applicants who appear at the Sept. 2 meeting and made known their intention to apply to fill the vacancy may be considered at the special called meeting.

Voting procedures

The successor for each open Ward seat will be appointed upon receiving a majority vote of the entire membership of the Council. If no applicant receives a majority vote or more of the City Council during the first vote, then a second round of voting will take place.

Subsequent voting rounds, to include run-off votes to eliminate the lowest vote-getters, if necessary, will be conducted until an applicant receives a majority vote. Upon approval and appointment by the City Council, the applicant will immediately be sworn in by the Mayor and take their seat, holding office until the next general election.

 For more information on applicant qualifications, go to https://bit.ly/3iD13Et

To learn more about the procedure to fill a City Council vacancy, go to https://bit.ly/3rwWPlD

 

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