On the day Tennessee State Fairgrounds supporters are expected to turn in thousands of petition signatures to hold a referendum to preserve the fairgrounds, an opposing neighborhood group has announced they’ve brought in legal counsel to ensure signatures are valid.
Save My Fairgrounds, operating under the direction of Metro Councilman Jamie Hollin, has until Monday, May 16, to submit approximately 15,700 signatures to add a referendum to the Aug. 4 election, allowing voters to decide whether the Metro-owned fairgrounds should remain intact. An announcement is expected some time Monday afternoon.
But Monday morning, Neighbors for Progress, a group that in the past aligned with Mayor Karl Dean and his efforts to redevelop the fairgrounds, announced it has tapped veteran attorney George Barrett to monitor the fairgrounds petition effort. The announcement, which says the group plans to legally challenge signatures if necessary, came from Barrett’s law office.
“Petitioning government is a fundamental right in our city and country,” said Colby Sledge, a fairgrounds neighbor who works with Neighbors for Progress. “Unfortunately, the group involved with this petition has a track record of organizing protestors from outside Nashville and bringing them into our communities to be disruptive.”
Barrett has a history of engaging in local election matters, having most recently applied pressure to Metro to expedite the redistricting of the Metro Council’s 35 political lines.
All fairgrounds petition signatures are to be turned into the Metro clerk’s office. From there, the signatures will be subject to the review of the Davidson County Election Commission to ensure they came from registered Davidson County voters and meet other eligibility criteria.
“Given the recent history of this particular issue, we believe it is incumbent on the Davidson County Election Commission to carefully consider and verify each and every signature on any petition filed today,” Barrett said. “The Metro Charter is clear: Any signatures must be verified as belonging to ‘registered voters of Nashville-Davidson County.’”