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Mt. Juliet city commission vote at a standstill

After voting five times to replace the District 4 seat, the Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners were at an impasse. The appointment to the vacant seat previously had been deferred twice since former Commissioner Brian Abston resigned in May.

Three candidates received nominations from members of the commission: Jim Bradshaw was nominated by District 3 Commissioner Art Giles, Gerard Bullock was nominated by Vice Mayor James Maness, and Jennifer Milele was nominated by Mayor Ed Hagerty.

Bradshaw, who had previously served on the commission, said he would like to return to the board and be conservative with taxpayers’ dollars.

Bullock said that he is a good candidate and recognizes that the board faces difficult decisions and is ready and willing to contribute.

Milele said she has lived and worked in the city since 1984 and if selected would act as a conduit between the city and the citizens of District 4, working to convey their wishes to the commission.

Because previous discussions and votes have ended in deferrals, Maness suggested ranking the candidates as a way to move the process along and eliminate any ties that may occur. He said this process has been used in other states and is similar to how Heisman Trophy candidates are selected.

Hagerty believed the ranking system could be manipulated to create ways to unfairly eliminate candidates. He also said the system is not listed in the city’s charter as an official way to vote for or select commissioners.

The best way to continue the process, Hagerty said, would be through a special election in which the citizens of District 4 could elect the person they believe would represent them the best. A special election would cost the city around $20,000.

In the first vote of the night to fill the seat, Bradshaw and Milele received one vote for and three votes against. Bullock received two votes for and two against, but a tie vote is a fail. Because no candidate received a majority vote, no one was selected to fill the seat. A motion to defer the vote one meeting also failed with a two-two vote, Hagerty and Giles for and Justice and Maness against. This process was repeated four more times throughout the evening, leading to a holding pattern where no business was conducted for almost an hour.

There were two motions to adjourn the meeting without deferral for the vote, but again it failed in a two-two vote. After the last motion to adjourn failed, Hagerty and Giles left the meeting. This caused the board to no longer have a quorum, or at least three members present, which prohibits the board from conducting business.

As the vote will be considered unfinished business, it should be discussed at the beginning of the next city commission meeting in August.

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