Nearly 70 percent of the more than 500 members of the Nashville Bar Association have either highly recommended or recommended former Vice Mayor Howard Gentry to fill Davidson County’s vacant Criminal Court clerk position.
The results, released Tuesday, come one week before the Metro Council is set to choose one of five nominees to replace departed clerk David Torrence, who was roundly criticized after his lazy work habits were revealed. He was likely subject to the state’s ouster clause, prompting his resignation.
The Nashville Bar Association is the general-purpose Metro bar association in Nashville, and historically releases survey results on candidates for clerk positions. Of the organization’s more than 3,000 members, 508 responded. Lawyers were asked to respond to each of the candidates in one of four ways: “highly recommend,” “recommend,” “do not recommend,” or “no opinion.”
“We don’t interpret the results,” said Gigi Woodruff, executive director of the association. “We just show what it was.”
Gentry, who observers believe has the support of the mayor’s office, bested the other four candidates by a healthy margin, with 45.3 percent of respondents highly recommending him for the office. Another 24.6 percent recommended Gentry hold the job; 10.2 percent did not recommend him; 19.9 percent had no opinion.
Councilman Michael Craddock, who unsuccessfully ran for the job last year but has the support of some council colleagues, saw just 3.3 percent of bar association members highly recommend him. Another 6.5 percent recommended Craddock for the job, but 50 percent did not recommend him. The rest, 40.2 percent, had no opinion.
Seven percent of bar association members surveyed highly recommended Steve Murff, former program director of the Davidson County Mental Health Court. Another 5.1 percent highly recommended Murff. Nearly 15 percent of bar association members did not recommend Murff, while another 73.2 percent had no opinion.
Frank Friedman, owner of Friedman’s Army-Navy Store on 21st Avenue, had only 3.9 percent of respondents highly recommend him for the job; 10.6 percent recommended him; 17.7 percent did not recommend him; 67.7 percent had no opinion.
Gayle Barbee, director of operations for the state’s Board of Probation and Parole, had just 0.4 percent highly recommend her candidacy; 2.8 percent recommended her for the job; 13.6 percent did not recommend her; 83.3 percent had no opinion of Barbee.