Eleven candidates to run for empty council seat - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Nick Kenney

Eleven candidates to run for empty council seat

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Eleven candidates say they want the empty seat on the Memphis City Council.  After five years on the council, Scott McCormick is leaving to take a job as the new Executive Director for the Plough Foundation.

By Thursday - the deadline for candidates to get their names on the ballot for McCormick's District 9, Position 1 seat - 11 candidates had qualified through the Shelby County Election Commission.

Among those candidates was John Willingham, a former Shelby County Commissioner and former candidate for Memphis Mayor.  If elected, Willingham said, he would push for tax reform.

"We have a tax - a sales tax that's two and a quarter percent greater than Arkansas and Mississippi," he said.  "Why wouldn't the mayor and everybody else go across the line to buy their goods and services?"

Another candidate - Kemp Conrad, who in 2007 unsuccessfully ran in Super District 9.  Thursday, Conrad said he would make crime his number one issue.

"To lobby Nashville to pass tougher state laws," he said. "New York has done this. Virginia has done this, and they're crime has dropped dramatically. We need to end parole for violent felons. We've got to get the crime issue under control."

Grocery store owner Lester Lit has made two previous bids for Memphis City Council without claiming victory. Thursday, he said he's running because he sees a city divided by race.

"The cancer is still there, and I think we need somebody like myself who is an independent," he said. "I'm not a Republican or a Democrat. I think I can reach across the aisle to both sides."

And Antonio "2Shay" Parkinson is in it again, too.  A year ago, he came up short in District One, but he says he's not giving up.

"We have to start developing our children early, preparing them for the workforce," he said. "They're simply not being prepared at this point. And then a lot of times it resorts in turning to crime and different things like that...finding other means of feeding themselves and their families."

Other candidates include Arnett Montague, III, Regina Morrison Newman, Jimmy Ogle, Paul Shaffer, Brian Stephens, Richard Stringer, and Mary Wilder.

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