COURT

The Sumner County Board of Education seat left vacant by the untimely death of Gallatin attorney Jim Hawkins is expected to be filled at the next County Commission meeting on Jan. 27.

Hawkins, who was in his first four-year term representing District 6, died Dec. 6 after a brief battle with lymphoma.  

The commission is required to fill the seat within 120 days of receiving notice of a vacancy, according to County Law Director Leah May Dennen. 

Dennen’s office sent an email to county commissioners on Dec. 16 notifying them of the process.

A candidate must be nominated by a county commissioner in order to be considered for the interim position. Interested District 6 residents may submit their name in writing to commissioners before the Jan. 27 meeting, or they may appear in person at the meeting. 

County Commission Chairman Scott Langford will have the discretion to allow nominees to be interviewed and/or to address the commission themselves. Commissioners could vote to fill the seat that night, or they could vote to postpone the appointment to a subsequent meeting. 

The appointee will serve until the county’s general election on Aug. 6. 

Carellton resident David Matsumoto, who opposed the Board of Education’s two-stage rezoning of the neighborhood along Long Hollow Pike in February, declared his candidacy for the position in September. 

Matsumoto said he’ll ask to be appointed, but isn’t sure he’ll be chosen.

“I worry about the interim appointment being the product of political favors from certain county officials rather than the commission desiring someone with a competent interest in students’ well-being,” he said. “Other than myself I know of no other private citizen who has been regularly interacting with School Board members and following their meetings.”

School board seats in Districts 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 will be on the Aug. 6 ballot. The first day candidates can pick up qualifying petitions is Monday, Feb. 3. The qualifying deadline for candidates is noon on April 2. 

The commission meets regularly on the third Monday of the month, but this year the third Monday falls on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal and state holiday. The next regular County Commission meeting is at 7 p.m. on Jan. 27.

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