Davidson County Election Commission - 8/15/18

The Davidson County Election Commission verified almost 5,000 signatures on a petition calling for a Community Oversight Board. (WSMV)

The Davidson County Election Commission will place a referendum calling for a Community Oversight Board on the ballot in November.

The commission voted 5-0 to approve adding the referendum to the ballot after 4,801 signatures on a petition asking for the referendum were verified.

The number surpasses the total needed to hold a referendum, which was 4,708.

The commission rejected almost 1,700 names on the petition several reasons including if someone was not a registered voter in Davidson County, a convicted felon, or wrote an invalid address.

Community Oversight Now submitted a petition with more than 8,000 signatures to the Metro Clerk's Office on Aug. 1.

The push for the police oversight came a week after Daniel Hambrick was shot and killed by a Metro Police officer and just over a year after an officer shot and killed

Several people with the group behind the petition, Community Overnight Now, attended Wednesday’s commission meeting.

“We don’t feel safe. We don’t feel that justice is here so what today means to me is that we have an opportunity to move the needle more toward justice,” said Grayce Gadson with Community Oversight Now.

Gadson says the proposed 11-member oversight board is needed to hold police more accountable.

“I think we’re already held to the highest level of accountability,” said James Smallwood, spokesperson for the Nashville FOP.

Smallwood says the FOP is open to a community oversight board, just not this version.

“There’s no stipulations, there’s no regulations. There’s no law enforcement perspective. A majority of the elected people on the board are gonna be from economically distressed areas, which doesn’t represent Davidson County as a whole,” said Smallwood.

The FOP is appealing the commission’s decision to verify the signatures, arguing the commission is basing the number of signatures needed on the wrong election.

The law requires petitions obtain signatures equal to 10% of total votes from the preceding general election.

The FOP argues the commission should have used the August 2016 general election, which would have required Community Oversight Now to collect 8,200 signatures, meaning the group would have fallen short. Instead, the commission looked at the May 2018 election, which only required 4708 signatures.

Community Oversight Now says its work is not down. The group now has to try to encourage Nashvillians to vote in favor of the Oversight Board in November.

“For all those people who say I don’t really have a reason to vote, it doesn’t make a difference... your vote will make a difference,” said Jackie Sims with Community Oversight Now.

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Kim St. Onge joined the News4 team as a reporter in January 2017.

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