Friday, February 9, 2018

How to impeach the mayor

by Rod Williams - The Metro Charter does not use the term "impeach" but it provides for removal from office by "ouster" or "recall."

To recall the mayor a petition must be signed by by 15% of the the qualified voters in Davidson County.  That would be a difficult number to achieve. There are about 420,000 registered voters in the County so a recall petition would require a petition signed by 63,000 voters. In the election of September, 2015 which elected Mayor Barry, there were 374,209 registered voters. Of that number, 110,894 voted in that election which was 29.63% of the eligible voters. Megan Barry received 60,519 votes. (I have requested the exact number of registered voters from the Election Commission and will update this post when provided with that information.)

A notice of the intention to obtain signatures for a recall petition must be filed with the metropolitan clerk prior to obtaining signatures of registered qualified voters and the required number of registered voters must be filed with the clerk no later than thirty days following the date the notice is filed. Once the petition is submitted, the Election Commission will verify the signatures. If the petition does contain a sufficient number of good names, then an election will be held to elect a successor.

The recall election would not be a yes or no vote on ousting Mayor Barry but would be an election. Mayor Barry's name would automatically be on the ballot along with others who qualify to run. Like any other election, the person getting the majority wins. If Mayor Barry should win she would continue to serve as mayor. If no one gets a majority, there would be a runoff. For more information on this, see the Metro Charter sections 15.05 thorough section 15.09.

Ouster is judicial process described in state law and is available to any municipality and the process is described in Tennessee Code Annotated, sections 8. A person may be removed from office "who shall knowingly or willfully commit misconduct in office," or who fails to perform their duties or is drunk in public or does a couple other things. 

The attorney general may initiate the ouster proceeding or may do so in response to a complaint, but it is up to the attorney general except when the governor directs the AG to start ouster proceedings. The AG may call witnesses and gather testimony and then he presents a case to a jury. If the defendant is found guilty, they are removed from office.

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