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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
8 Apr 2023

NextImg:Counties Plan to Send Expelled Tennessee Lawmakers Back to Statehouse

County officials in Tennessee say they want to send the lawmakers who were expelled from their positions right back to the statehouse.

Nashville Vice Mayor Jim Shulman has already scheduled a special meeting to consider the seat left open when state Rep. Justin Jones, a Democrat, was expelled on April 6.

The meeting, set for April 10, will formally announce the vacancy, discuss procedures for filling vacancies, and possibly include a vote to name an interim successor, the meeting website states.

While the council normally takes a minimum of four weeks to vote on an interim replacement, Jones could be reappointed as state representative by the end of the meeting if council rules are suspended, Shulman, officially nonpartisan, told Axios.

A majority of the 40-seat council have said on social media or to news outlets they want to vote for Jones to reassume the seat he held.

“My Council District 6 constituents of House 52 want [Jones] reinstated. I will be voting in favor of his reinstatement if he accepts the Metro Council’s nomination,” Brett Withers, one of the council members, wrote on Twitter.

“I will vote to reappoint [Jones] as soon as Metro Council meets to consider it,” Freddie O’Connell, another member, added.

The council is officially nonpartisan but some members have described most of the council as Democrats.

Officials appointed to vacancies serve until a special election is held.

Winners of special elections finish the remainder of the term.

Tennessee Rep. Justin Pearson speaks on his phone while being expelled from the state Legislature in Nashville, Tenn., on April 6, 2023. (Seth Herald/Getty Images)

Jones and Justin Pearson, another Democrat, were expelled because they led protesters with a bullhorn onto the House floor, interrupting proceedings. A third Democrat, state Rep. Gloria Johnson, avoided being expelled after some Republicans supported her. Republicans hold a supermajority in the state House.

Pearson could also be returning to his position.

Shelby County Commission Chairman Mickell Lowery told WREG-TV that there could be a vote on an appointment to the seat Pearson held as soon as Monday.

Pearson is an option for an appointment, Lowery, a Democrat, said.

“It definitely should be Representative Pearson, who was elected overwhelmingly by District 86 to be their voice, and we can’t take that away from the people. He was selected by the people and should be in that seat,” Lowery said.

Multiple commissioners have said they’ll vote for Pearson.

“I have heard from my constituents, people across the county, and state as well as Republicans and Democrats, so I will be voting to reappoint Justin Pearson,” Shelby County Commissioner Erika Sugarmon, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Most county commissioners in Shelby County are Democrats.

Commissioner Amber Mills, a Republican, told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal that she would not vote for Pearson because it could lead to state legislators blocking money for the county.

“If he’s being expelled for disrupting, it makes no sense to put someone back,” Mills said. “I don’t see him being effective if he does go back. Who’s going to vote for any of his stuff?”