Among many of the questions surrounding the arrest of State Representative Rob Briley (D-Nashville), charged over the weekend with DUI, evading arrest, and vandalism, is what would happen if he resigned from office.
State law indicates that should a member of the state legislature resign their seat or are unable to finish their term of office, the governing body of the county in which they reside makes an interim appointment to fill the seat until a special election is called by the governor. The governor does not have to set a special election for a seat if there is already an election scheduled to occur within a year of the vacancy.
What this means is that newly minted members of Nashville's metro council might have a state legislative appointment on their hands. Nashville's mayor-elect, Karl Dean, and mayor for the next nine days, Bill Purcell, are bystanders in this process. The choice would come from the council to an individual living in the legislative district.
There are names, some already serving on the council, being knocked around as possible replacements by friends and political speculators. Councilmen Erik Cole and Mike Jameson are the two councilmen being discussed as potentials. Cole is executive director of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and Jameson is a partner in the law firm of North, Pursell, Ramos and Jameson.
Other potential candidates for the job are attorneys Mike Stewart, Jeff Ockerman, and longtime metro insider Billy Fields.
Stewart, a partner at Waller, Lansden, Dortch and Davis, ran for the seat against Bill Boner in the early 1990's. His area of practice is in state tax litigation.
Ockerman is a partner at the law firm of Stites & Harbison where focuses his practice on the health care industry. From 1991 to 1995, he served on the metro council.
Last on the rumor list is Billy Fields. Fields is a long time metro employee that has been a favorite of previous metro councils. The last time his name surfaced in the news was when Fields was let go from Purcell's Office of Neighborhoods during a feud over budget cuts between the council and the mayor. Fields quickly found employment in another branch of metro government.
To see a map of the legislative district, click here.