ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Staff File Photo / Hamilton County Sessions Court Judge Alex McVeagh has applied to replace Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz after the latter was appointed to the state Criminal Court of Appeals.

Early voters who are not close followers of the news may be confused when they scan their ballot for the Aug. 4 election.

They will see the names of Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz and Hamilton County Sessions Court Judge Alex McVeagh as unopposed candidates for their positions and may recall something they saw about the name of both linked with different judgeships.

The name of Greg Martin also will appear on the ballot twice for two different posts.

With early voting having begun Friday, voters should know the details — and that the Hamilton County Election Commission hasn't simply made errors in its printing process.

On March 28, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee appointed Greenholtz to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. The appointment was subject to confirmation by the Tennessee General Assembly and would be effective Sept. 1, 2022.

Since the ballot already had been printed for the May election, Greenholtz's name appeared there, and his name is also on the August ballot — unopposed — since he was not confirmed until April 27.

Within days of the appointment of Greenholtz, rumors began to fly that McVeagh would be appointed to fill Greenholtz's position, and attorneys Caldwell Huckabay and David Schmidt picked up papers to run in August for what was assumed to be the position McVeagh would vacate.

However, as McVeagh wrote in a recent letter to "Friends and Supporters," when he was approached after Greenholtz's appointment with the hypothetical question as to whether he would run for Criminal Court instead of General Sessions Court, he said he "made clear to my former opponents and to my supporters that while I could not foresee what the future might hold," the Criminal Court judgeship would not be available before the election.

Huckabay and Schmidt, who had both qualified to run against McVeagh (perhaps assuming he would be appointed to Criminal Court), withdrew their candidacies. Thus, McVeagh remains the only candidate on the ballot for the judgeship in Sessions Court, Division 2.

However, the application process to replace Greenholtz recently was opened, and McVeagh along with attorneys Robert Davis and Amanda Dunn decided to submit their names. The three candidates will be considered by the Trial Court Vacancy Commission at 9 a.m. on Aug. 5 — the day after the election — at a location to be determined. The commission is expected to recommend one of the three names, which will be submitted to the governor for consideration.

If McVeagh is not chosen, he would remain Sessions Court judge since his name is the only one on the August ballot for his division. If he is chosen, Lee would name his replacement.

As for Martin, his status has similarities to Greenholtz. Martin had qualified to run for his second full term from District 3 on the Hamilton County Commission, and the ballot had been printed for the May primary when state Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, resigned from the legislature on March 7 and said she reached a plea agreement on one count of honest services wire fraud.

Her interim replacement was left to the county commission, and Martin indicated his interest. On March 30, he was appointed to the post and immediately left the commission. He was sworn in to the legislature on April 4 — too late to have his name removed from the May primary ballot, where he was unopposed.

Since the legislative appointment was temporary, he left his name on the August general election ballot for his commission seat, where he is unopposed, but also filed to run for the Republican nomination for a full term in the legislature. A question emerged as to whether he could be on the ballot for two positions, but Tennessee law makes clear he can run for a county and a state seat on the same ballot but could not have run for two county positions or two state positions on the ballot.

Martin has said after the Aug. 4 election, he plans to resign the county commission seat and remain on the general election ballot in November for state legislature, where he will have a Democratic opponent. Whether he can resign immediately after the election or must wait until he is sworn in on Sept. 1 is unclear.

Chattanooga City Councilman Ken Smith was appointed as a temporary replacement for Martin and would like to be reappointed after Martin resigns again. If he is reappointed, he would have to run for the remainder of Martin's term at a latter date.

With so many extra names on the ballot for August, what with votes for state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges, state executive committee candidates, and a myriad of unopposed county posts, anyone could get confused and throw up their hands. But we hope, at least for the important local positions discussed above, voters will take note and mark their ballots appropriately.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT