Now that a lawsuit has actually been filed against the August 2nd special election, and the suit cited the specific wording of the law, I have to reverse myself and conclude it probably is legal after all.
The lawsuit, filed by former Metro councilman and current head of the Nashville chapter of the NAACP Ludye Wallace, who says the later date will harm his chance of winning the mayor’s race, cites the city ordinance he believes it violates:
“There shall be a held a special election to fill a vacancy for the unexpired term in the office of mayor and in the office of district council member whenever such a vacancy shall exist more than twelve (12) months prior to the date of the next general metropolitan election.”
The Tennessean reported earlier: Davidson County voters approved a Metro charter amendment in 2007 that says a special election is required to fill a vacancy in the office of mayor or council whenever more than 12 months are left in an unexpired term. Barry’s term has more than 18 months remaining.
That reporting misinterpreted the law. “Whenever more than 12 months are left in an unexpired term” is not the same as twelve (12) months prior to the date of the next general metropolitan election.
By the specific wording of the law, it does matter whether the August election is “the next general metropolitan election.”
According to Ballotpedia: Davidson County, Tennessee, will hold general elections for Chancery Court Part 2, county clerk, criminal court clerk, Criminal Court Division 2, General Sessions Court Division 3, General Sessions Court Division 10, juvenile court clerk, public defender, register of deeds, sheriff, and trustee on August 2, 2018. If a race has more than two candidates for a party nomination, a primary will be held on May 1, 2018.
While it is not the next general election for mayor, it is, by objective sources, the next general metropolitan election.
So, reversing my previous conclusion after having read the wording of the law (as used in the lawsuit against the August election), it appears to me now that the Nashville Election Commission decision is in accordance with state and city law.