The Wilson County Commission is expected to fill a vacant commission seat in District 3 at its Feb. 24 meeting.
Commissioner Fred Weston died Jan. 20 after fighting a long battle with cancer. He served as commissioner for District 3 since Sept. 2010. The individual selected to fill the vacancy will serve for the un-expired term, which runs through Aug. 31.
“We were saddened by Mr. Weston’s death. He served his constituents and Wilson County honorably for several years, even in recent years while battling cancer. Wilson County has lost a great public servant,” Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said.
Anytime there’s a vacancy among elected officials, the commission is responsible for filling the vacancy. The process is outlined in state law.
Any individual interested in the position must meet the qualifications outlined for holding public office under state law. Qualified individuals must be 18 years old or older, a resident and qualified voter of District 3 and not convicted of a felony. The district lines used in the 2010 elections will be used in determining eligibility for this vacancy per state law. The old lines are drastically different from the new District 3 lines, which will be used for the 2014 elections. Individuals interested in serving in the position should check with the Election Commission to ensure they live in District 3 as it appeared in 2010.
Current voter registration cards now reflect the new district lines and should not be considered in determining eligibility for the selection. For more details on qualifications, individuals should check with the Wilson County Election Commission at 615-444-0216.
The individual selected to fill the vacancy must receive the majority of a vote from the commission. Anyone interested should contact current commissioners to let them know of their desire and solicit support, since they will elect the individual to fill the vacancy.
Names may be submitted in writing to the Wilson County mayor in advance of the commission meeting, but this is not a requirement. Before the commission considers the issue, voters of District 3 will be allowed to recommend individuals to be considered for the position. Once all recommendations from the public have been made, the Commission will then begin the nomination and selection process.
A commissioner must nominate an individual on the floor, after the time for public input has ended, for that person to be considered. The public is not allowed to nominate and can only recommend candidates. A commissioner may also nominate an individual who did not receive a recommendation from the public. Seconds are not required for nominations.
Once nominations by the commission are complete, the individuals nominated will be given about three to five minutes to briefly address the commission to share information about themselves and their desire for the position. Handouts may be passed out prior to the commission meeting.
Voting will take place on paper ballots. Commissioners will be provided with blank ballots and must sign the ballot for their vote to be considered. Votes will be read aloud once all ballots have been collected. If one person receives the majority vote, which must be at least 13 votes, voting is complete. If no one receives 13 votes, the candidate with the lowest vote total shall have his or her name, or their names should there be a tie, removed. Balloting will continue using the same process with the revised list of candidates being considered. This process will continue until an individual is selected. The successful candidate may be sworn into office that night, and will begin serving immediately to fill the unexpired term.
“The process used to fill a vacancy of an elected official is very specific. We want to make certain our citizens, and especially individuals interested in seeking the position, are aware of how the process works,” said Hutto.
All commission seats will be up for election during the General Election to be held on Aug. 7. The new term will begin Sept. 1.
Anyone with questions regarding the process should contact the Wilson County mayor’s office at 615-444-1383 during regular office hours.