MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A stunning upset Thursday night in the runoff races for two Memphis City Council seats. Both incumbent councilmen lost their bids for re-election.
Voter turnout was dismal. Shelby County Election officials say less than 5-percent of the 92,000 registered voters in the two districts cast ballots. But those who did vote were solidly for the challengers.
In District 7, representing Mud Island, Uptown, Frayser and North Memphis, Councilman Berlin Boyd lost to Michalyn Easter-Thomas by a landslide. With 2,036 votes, she had more than triple the number of votes he did.
And in District 1, representing Raleigh, Frayser and part of Cordova, incumbent Sherman Greer who edged out Rhonda Logan during a controversial vote last year when a bitterly divided council had to fill the empty seat, was not as successful this time around. Logan won the race with 1,034 votes to 802 for Greer.
Councilman Boyd was the deciding vote that helped Greer get appointed to the city council last year. The democrat took a lot of heat and criticism for siding with Republicans on a vote that left the council bitterly divided and prompted a walk-out and boycott of future meetings by the African-American council members.
Thursday night, when asked if that event contributed to his defeat, Councilman Boyd told WMC Action News 5: "It could have. I still stand firm with how I voted in that race. I held my ground. I'm not going to be bullied into voting for someone because someone tells me to."
Michalyn Easter-Thomas' campaign was run by the same man who organized Rhonda Logan's campaign: State Rep. Antonio Parkinson. And he rallied the troops for his candidates.
Easter-Thomas told WMC Action News 5 she’s “Humbled and thankful for the opportunity to serve all the people of the district. This win represents a move toward communities in District 7 getting what they need and deserve. The people have spoken.”
After the polls closed and the results came in, Rhonda Logan posted a picture of herself standing with Easter-Thomas and Representative Parkinson. At the top of the page, she wrote a simple and enthusiastic "YAAASSS!"
Logan told WMC Action News 5 her message of moving District 1 communities forward and being people-focused resonated with the voters.
“We look forward to getting to work for the people,” she said.
This runoff election wasn’t cheap for taxpayers. Shelby County Election Commission officials say the cost for 4,500 people to cast their ballots in the runoff was $300,000. It was an estimated $1.4 million altogether for the general election and runoff.
The Councilwomen-elect will take office after the first of the year.