The commission will meet in a special-called meeting will be at 6 p.m. in commission chambers at the Wilson County Courthouse to select a new representative. The new representative will immediately serve in the state legislature, which convened in a new session that started Tuesday, until the Nov. 6 election.
But the Rev. Chet Gallagher, of Lebanon, said late Tuesday night the commission’s action to appoint a declared candidate is “patently unfair and not just to all others campaigning in the upcoming race, but also to every voter residing within all three counties of House District 46.”
Gallagher said he expects the commission will appoint Republican Clark Boyd, who plans to run for the District 46 House seat. Melba Holmes has said she also plans to run for the office on the Republican ticket. The two and possibly others will meet in the Aug. 2 state primary. No Democrat candidate has expressed interest in the office at this point, but Friday was the first day candidates could pick up petitions to qualify to run. The qualifying deadline is April 5 at noon.
“It is ultimately the right and responsibility of the people of the 46th District to choose their state representative,” said Gallagher. “A level playing field will no longer exist if any single declared candidate would be awarded an incumbent status at the whim of one county commission, rather than submitting to the will of the voters. The appropriate course of action for the Wilson County commissioners is to nominate a committed placeholder and not a declared candidate for this interim period. Such an option succeeded last year when county officials in District 94 appointed a placeholder thereby allowing the campaign of all candidates to proceed unencumbered.”
Gallagher, who describes himself on social media as a former Las Vegas police officer, member of the Operation Save America leadership team, crusade evangelist, missions pastor, full-time Christian anti-abortion activist and gospel preacher, said a placeholder is someone willing to actively serve as a state representative for the current session only and will not run as a candidate in the 2018 election. He said citizens would be present at Wednesday’s meeting to express their disapproval and ask commissioners to consider the issue as important to all voters and encourage them to appoint a placeholder for the interim period to allow voters to decide who will fill the House seat in November.
Pody was elected to the District 17 state Senate seat in December when he defeated Democrat Mary Alice Carfi by 308 votes in a special election. Mae Beavers vacated the Senate seat to focus on her run for governor.
The special election was held because state law allowed the commission to opt for it rather than appointing someone since more than 12 months remained in the term. Since less than 12 months remain in the District 46 House term, state law allows the commission to appoint a representative.