The second round of English Only petitions earned 5,000 signatures last week alone, according to Councilman Eric Crafton, more than double the amount necessary to force a special election.
Crafton said he would make his second trip to the Metro Clerk’s office today at 11 a.m. to turn in his signatures. He needed about 2,475 in order to put his charter amendment proposal on the ballot for a special election.
The proposal would alter Metro’s charter to make English its official language and would say no one has a right to services in any language besides English.
Crafton said the goal was to have the special election on Jan. 22.
It’s the Bellevue councilman’s second attempt at a petition-driven charter amendment. He turned in the necessary 10,103 signatures to put the proposal on the Nov. 7 ballot, but the Davidson County Election Commission ruled the petition drive did not clear the required two-year waiting period by three days.
Crafton appealed that ruling, but a Chancery Court judge sided with the election commission.
After the Tennessee Supreme Court said it would not expedite Crafton’s latest appeal, he was forced to start the petition process over gain. For the second round, Crafton only needs 2,475 signatures because the law states 10 percent of the voters from the previous election must sign in order to put it on the ballot. The previous general election, according to Election Commission Director Ray Barrett, was in August and about 25,000 voters went to the polls.
Crafton said he did not anticipate a legal challenge this time around.
“I don’t know why it would,” Crafton said.
The cost of a special election is about $350,000 Barrett said.
English Only has been criticized by Mayor Karl Dean, Metro Council members and various Nashville immigrant rights advocates.
In response to Dean’s opposition, a group is planning a protest in front of Jimmy Kelly’s restaurant Wednesday morning. That’s when Dean will be meeting with Gov. Phil Bredesen for a fund-raiser for Nashville state Sen. Joe Haynes.
To get word out about the protest, people handed out fliers before Sunday’s Titans game. A Web site — www.threeamigosfiesta.com — was also launched.
“This initiative should have been on the General Election Ballot for November,” the Web site reads. “Evidently, the ‘Three Amigos’ must not care how much of our tax dollars they waste. Show these three elected leaders your displeasure by attending a special, surprise, welcoming parade for their upcoming, elite, exclusive breakfast.”
Crafton said he did not know about the protest or the Web site.