The Hamilton County Commission will vote on a replacement for former Tennessee state Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, at the end of this month.
Smith on Monday resigned amid a plea deal related to wire fraud charges. Applicants to fill the seat have until March 18 to send a letter to the commission's office at 625 Georgia Ave. #401, chair Sabrena Smedley, R-Ooltewah, said at Wednesday's commission meeting. The commissioners will vote on an appointment March 30.
"In appreciation of the fact that the 2021 session of the Tennessee General Assembly is still in session, with its expected adjournment being within the next two months, there is a need for this body to make an interim appointment of an individual to continue serving the citizens of the 26th legislative district," Smedley said.
Commissioners will have the opportunity to interview applicants between the application deadline and vote.
Smith's resignation and charges stem from the federal wire fraud investigation of a political consulting firm tied to former state House Speaker Glen Casada, who remains a House member, and Casada's former chief of staff, Cade Cothren.
On Tuesday, Smith pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a single charge of honest services wire fraud in what federal prosecutors described as a kickback scheme involving the use of taxpayer-funded constituent mail.
Her sentencing was scheduled for Oct. 17, leaving time for her to cooperate in the ongoing federal investigation. Smith could face up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
The interim appointment will serve until the results of the Nov. 8 general election are certified.
During Wednesday's meeting, Commissioner Tim Boyd, R-East Brainerd, asked whether a sitting commissioner could serve as a state representative at the same time, to which the county attorney answered that the county's initial impression was that they could.
Interim representatives are able to run to stay in the seat longer, but that would require them to return qualifying petitions by April 7 if they wish to be on the ballot for the Aug. 4 primary election.
As of Wednesday afternoon, no candidates other than Smith had picked up petitions.
The Times Free Press on Tuesday reached out to several potential candidates for comment.
Commissioner Greg Martin, R-Hixson, and Mayor Jim Coppinger declined to comment on any political aspirations. Martin is running for re-election, while Coppinger is not seeking another term.
Joe Smith, a Republican from Hixson who sits on the Hamilton County school board, said in a Tuesday phone interview he has no intentions to run.