MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis City Council has opted not to vote on replacements for the three vacant council seats until next year.
Tuesday’s meeting was the first time that all 10 members were together since four walked out two weeks ago over a dispute to fill the District 1 vacancy.
However, council members were still unable to come to a decision over candidate Rhonda Logan.
“Classism, sexism, racism... I feel it’s about all three,” Logan told WMC5 after the meeting.
Council member Worth Morgan explained why he wouldn’t vote for Logan.
“My number one priority is that this be about public service, not self service,” Morgan said.
Morgan admitted that having councilman Rickey Peete (a convicted felon) speak on her behalf made it a “no” vote for him.
“And Rickey Peete who has twice been convicted of public corruption,” Morgan said. “He has been twice expelled from this city council for taking bribes... that was enough for me to have concern about her candidacy.”
A majority of the African American council members want Logan to get the seat.
She's the head of the Raleigh Community Development Corporation, and she is also black.
When not a single white council member voted for her, the meeting became all about race and the conversation shifted to an emotional conversation.
“Every black person I know was taught growing up they have to be twice as good at something to be successful,” said council member Martavious Jones.
Jones called out Morgan and colleagues who supported Lonnie Treadaway, a Republican from Mississippi for the seat representing majority black, democratic Raleigh.
"What did he bring to the table besides his whiteness?" Jones asked.
Citizen after citizen told council members that considering Logan “guilty by association” wasn’t fair.
Constituent Suzanne Jackson said she was upset by “the underlying racism that is represented at this point by this council."
"Just because there was one candidate I did not choose for District 1 does not make me a racist," said council member J. Ford Canale.
After the emotional dialogue, council members ended the meeting holding hands in a powerful prayer circle.
Outside council chambers, Logan and supporters vowed to fight on.
“Should there be a special election we would welcome a special election we would welcome a special election,” said Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D).
City council also vetoed the rate increases proposed by MGLW.
MLGW asked council members to raise rates across electric, gas, and water divisions effective July 2019. The average customer cost would have been about $10 a month.
The council told MLGW to operate under last year’s budget instead and sent MLGW back to come up with an adjusted budget for 2019.
“It means more outages," said CEO J.T. Young.
Young said the increases are needed to improve the utility’s failing, decades-old grid.
At least one council member suggested cutting MLGW retiree benefits to save money.