Mike Jameson, the former East Nashville Metro councilman and a favorite among progressives, emerged as the choice to fill an open Davidson County General Sessions judgeship Tuesday after collecting votes from many old colleagues.
“Mr. Jameson is now a judge,” Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors said after the Metro Council appointed Jameson over seven others to fill the judge position left vacant with the recent death of Judge Leon Ruben.
Jameson, who served on the council from 2003 through this past September, indicated he could be sworn in within a matter of weeks. His win came after 24 council votes, besting attorney Blake Freeman, who received 16 votes.
In an earlier round of voting, which failed to produce a majority, Jameson, Freeman and attorney Lynda Jones, collected 18, 15 and seven votes, respectively. The run-off followed.
Afterwards, Jameson, an attorney at North, Pursell, Ramos & Jameson, said General Sessions is “where the rubber meets the road” in terms of public service. The court is noted for its high-volume of cases on civil, misdemeanor, felony, traffic and environmental violations. Jameson will become one of 11 General Sessions judges.
“You can run for higher office and be that much more remote from other people, or serve in higher courts and be that much further removed from people,” Jameson said. “But in Sessions, you are there one-on-one with folks who need your help and probably don’t have a lot of alternatives.”
At-large Councilman Jerry Maynard, who nominated Jameson for the General Sessions position, used words like “dignity” and “fair” to describe him.
“Mike came here every day prepared,” Maynard told his council colleagues prior to the vote. “He came here because he believed in this city and its greatness. He took his job seriously, and undoubtedly I believed he is one of the finest councilman ever to serve in this chamber.”
Given its heavy traffic, some have likened General Sessions to a “cattle call.” Jameson said he hopes to “expedite efficiency” as much as he can, including improving court notification and scheduling outreach.
“We’re state-of-the-art now, but it’s still not getting us where we need to be,” Jameson said.
Jameson unsuccessfully sought an open circuit court judgeship three years ago. In short time, Jameson will have to transition to campaign mode. His judge seat is up for election in March.
Anticipating that date, Jameson has already appointed a campaign treasurer and hired a campaign manager. He said he has a meeting Wednesday with representatives of Fletcher/Rowley Strategy and Advertising, a local media group that has produced numerous campaign ads over years.
“I’ll start from 24, and build from there,” Jameson laughed, referencing his council-vote total and the spring election.
In other council items:
• The council approved a resolution authorizing the $3.25 million purchase of the former JCPenney building at Hickory Hollow Mall. Mayor Karl Dean and his administration plan to convert the space into a library and community center, surrounded by green space.
• The council approved on the second of three votes an ordinance to increase the LP Field user-fee from $2 to $3. Monies collected from the fee are to pay for nearly $26 million in stadium upgrades. A resolution outlining the bond structure for the upgrades will go before the council next month.
• At the request of bill sponsor Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr., the council deferred indefinitely a bill that that would have used so-called “spot-zoning” to accommodate a new LED sign at the Temple Baptist Church in Bordeaux. The ordinance had drawn heavy criticism from neighborhood activists.