Commissioner George Smartt has been asked to resign his position as 3rd District County Commissioner.
During the Policy and Personnel Committee report Monday night during the full County Court meeting, Commissioner Michael Martin said, “Mr. Smartt has moved out of his district into the 9th District and is using his mama’s address. I think he ought to resign because he lives in the 9th District.”
Smartt recently sold his home in Hickory Hills. He maintains his wife and children reside in a newly purchased home located behind McMinnville Country Club in The Links subdivision. Smartt says he lives with his mother on John Lawson Road off Vervilla Road.
County Executive John Pelham said, “Let me address that because I am aware of that situation. I personally spoke to Commissioner Smartt about this. I was aware of him selling his home and he relocated to 627 John Lawson Road. His wife has purchased a home that is in The Links, a different district. I think it actually lies in Commissioner Wayne Copeland and Commissioner Bessie Smithson’s district. I have asked him where his residence is. He has told me 627 John Lawson Road. He has a telephone there. He has his driver’s license address at 627 John Lawson Road. He receives his mail there. And, as far as I know, Commissioner Smartt is residing at that residence which is within his district.”
Pelham also said he has had a conversation with election administrator Donna Smith about this matter.
“I have also spoken with our director of elections,” said Pelham. “I will read to you Tennessee Statute, code 2-2-122 statement No. 5 that says, ‘The place where a married person’s spouse and family have their habitation is presumed to be that person’s place of residence.’ If you stop there, that would place him at The Links. But, this paragraph continues on. ‘But, a married person who takes up or continues abode with the intention of remaining at a place other than where the person’s family resides is a resident where the person abides.’ I have also consulted with our county attorney about the situation and the circumstances such as they are. Our county attorney said that it simply would be correct to ask the commissioner if that is where he abides and if he says yes to take him at his word and if there was anything another commissioner or another individual wished to pursue beyond that, it would then be a legal matter and would then be appropriate for that individual at that time to secure legal counsel and to seek an ouster ruling against him. To seek an ouster would require a legal ruling from a court,” said Pelham.
Pelham asked Commissioner Smartt if 627 John Lawson Road was his place of residence.
Smartt said, “That is correct.”
County attorney Rick Stacy said, “If I may correct something, it is not technically called an ouster action.”
Stacy quoted TCA 848-106 which is a judgment of vacancy certification. Stacy said legal determination of vacancy would be the correct terminology to use instead of ouster.
“Based on that, since there is a dispute and Commissioner Smartt maintains that he has not moved to a new residence, it would be my advice the County Commission would be wise to wait on some sort of judicial determination before taking action to declare his seat vacant or to try and fill his seat,” said Stacy.
“He just changed his address last week. He has been out there nearly two months. Why is he just now changing his address?” asked Martin.
Pelham ended the discussion by saying, “Let me state this for the record. If there is any further question, concern or deliberation about this, check with our county attorney.”