Memphis City Council set to meet 2 weeks after protest

Memphis City Council set to meet 2 weeks after protest

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The full Memphis City Council is expected to meet Tuesday, two weeks after four members walked out in protest of the appointment process for an open seat in District 1.

Council members are set to handle the District 1 appointment, as well as appointments for two other open seats.

It's not yet clear if the spirit of Christmas compromise will take over at city hall. What is clear, though, is that any potential solution won't make everybody happy.

“I think it's an insult to the city of Memphis this is what our leadership is putting us through,” said Norma Lester, president of Democratic Women of Shelby County.

Monday morning, a handful of political groups held a joint news conference at the National Civil Rights Museum.

It followed a news conference Friday with the NAACP, where that group urged for a special election for three open Memphis City Council seats.

WMC Action News 5 political analyst Michael Nelson says that may be the only solution for the District 1 stalemate.

“A special election… it’ll be a low turnout election, it’ll cost money but we’ve got to move past this,” Nelson said.

The controversy started before Thanksgiving.

“It is alarming to see the treatment of Ms. Logan by members of the Memphis City Council,” said Latrivia Welch.

Rhonda Logan, executive director of the Raleigh Community Development Corporation, couldn’t get the seven votes needed to secure the appointment for District 1 through more than 100 tries of voting.

Two weeks later, Joe Brown, Patrice Robinson, Jamita Swearengen, and Martavius Jones walked out of a council meeting in protest, saying the process was flawed.

The other candidate for the District 1 seat, Lonnie Treadaway, withdrew his candidacy on Dec. 5 in another failed meeting, leaving the door open for some type of compromise.

Last week, Chair Berlin Boyd said if the council couldn’t compromise, it’s possible they’d leave the District 1 seat vacant, although the city charter calls for it to be filled within 30 days.

“I think that would be unfair,” Boyd said. “Every other district, they have their full compliment or would have their full compliment of actual persons.”

The group is also set to pick a chairman Tuesday.

Janis Fullilove was one of the three council members elected to county office who failed to resign in time to trigger a special election.

Despite that, she voiced her criticism of Boyd on Monday.

“He’s a joke and he needs to get out of there… that’s all I got to say,” Fullilove said.

A spokesperson for the Shelby County Election Commission said the council as a whole can call for a special election.

For District 1 alone, that would cost $150,000, and for all three districts, it would cost half a million dollars.

WMC5 also reached out to Boyd for comment but has not heard back.

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