New Park Proposal - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

New Park Proposal

A new push to solve the Confederate parks name debate could come out of the pockets of Memphis city taxpayers.

Memphis City Councilman Myron Lowery wants the people of Memphis to vote on the issue.

There are two possible outcomes to Lowery's idea: one that would cost the city and one that would not.

He says it is time to put the issue to rest. "If it can't be resolved soon, then my suggestion of a referendum is the best choice, I think, because all citizens would have the opportunity to express their views."

The Shelby County Election Commission said if the city puts the referendum on an existing ballot, there are no extra costs.

If a special election is necessary, there are costs for Memphis city taxpayers, including early voting personnel, the cost of the site, and transportation for the machines.

While city leaders say the debate over renaming confederate parks draws color lines, voting history could create a grey area.

People are usually motivated by a particular candidate or issue. "If that is the only thing on the ballot and it's a special election, turnout is going to be particularly low," said Shelby Election Commissioner Richard Holden.

Holden said the last Memphis Municipal Election cost a million dollars. Voter turnout for that election was 37% Black, and 44% White.

Before the city attorney can determine if the referendum is legal to put on the ballot, the City Council would have to agree on how to word it.

Lowery said it is important to look at the big picture. "After this controversy is over and done with, we all have to live together in this community."

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