MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Six of the thirteen members of the Memphis City Council will be new in 2020. That’s after runoff elections Thursday where two incumbent councilmen in districts one and seven were defeated. Most of the races were decided in last month’s municipal election.
The new group also makes history with five African-American women serving in council positions.
“Having this victory is just icing on the cake,” said Rhonda Logan.
Logan was breathing a sigh of relief Friday after beating Sherman Greer in the runoff election Thursday. Logan’s race is a story in itself. She jockeyed for the job last year when the position came open, but a council stalemate over the appointment process left her on the sidelines.
The public spectacle unfolded nearly a year to the day as Logan’s Thursday night election victory.
“That really fueled me to want to represent the people of this district, to give them, the opportunity to have a representative that they chose,” she said.
Berlin Boyd was council chair at the time and declined to vote for Logan, though she needed one additional council vote to secure the appointment. Boyd, a two-time council chairman, was resoundingly defeated Thursday night by Michalyn Easter-Thomas, an educator.
Easter-Thomas was unavailable Friday for an in-person interview but spoke to WMC Action News 5 at a campaign event last month.
“We are unified in our and our people’s demand for new leadership,” she said.
Six of the body’s thirteen members will be new in the upcoming term: Rhonda Logan, Edmund Ford, Sr., Michalyn Easter-Thomas, J.B. Smiley, Jr., Chase Carlisle, and Dr. Jeff Warren.
“My guess is they’re going to be bringing a fresh face and some new ideas,” said Michael Nelson, WMC Action News 5 Political Analyst.
They join seven returning council members: Frank Colvett Jr, Patrice Robinson, Jamita Swearengen, Worth Morgan, Cheyenne Johnson, Martavius Jones, and Ford Canale.
Nelson said it remains to be seen what kind of stance this council will take. He expects heightened discussions on improving MATA bus service and business development deal incentives. The current council has also shied away from raising taxes.
“I think they’re going to be taking a look at economic incentives for business and thinking if Memphis is booming, why do we have to keep giving developers the same kind of tax breaks we have,” Nelson said.
The new members will go through a council orientation before their January swearing in.
Current council chair Kemp Conrad said the new member orientation is scheduled for November 21.