VOL. 126 | NO. 17 | Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Complete Shelby Delegation Preps for Expanded Leadership
By Bill Dries
When the Tennessee Legislature returns on Feb. 7 from its three-week recess, the 22-member Shelby County legislative delegation will be at full strength.
The newest member, District 98 Democrat Antonio Parkinson, won appointment by the Shelby County Commission to the seat he claimed in this month’s special Democratic primary election.
He fills the vacancy created by the November death of Democratic legislator Ulysses Jones Jr.
Parkinson advanced to the March 8 special general election ballot by winning last week’s primary. But he has no Republican or independent opposition.
Commissioners opted to pass on making an appointment before the special primary election.
Had commissioners waited for the general election and its results to be certified, Parkinson would have missed much of the year’s legislative session in Nashville.
Parkinson represents the only change in the Shelby County delegation. All 16 state representatives including Jones and three of the six state senators whose elections are staggered won re-election on the Nov. 2 ballot.
But the expanded Republican majority in the state House that led to a change in the House speaker’s position has also meant changes for Shelby County legislators.
Democrat Lois DeBerry, the longest-serving member of the delegation, is no longer speaker pro tempore. She is Democratic floor leader. Memphis Democrat Joe Towns has the No. 2 position in the House Democratic leadership. He is assistant leader.
Mark White of Germantown is assistant floor leader for House Republicans.
Cordova Republican Steve McManus is chairman of the House Commerce Committee under Speaker Beth Harwell.
Collierville Republican Curry Todd is chairman of the state and local government committee.
It is a timely appointment for Todd. The committee deals with complex legislation that touches on state government’s relationship with local governments on issues including taxes and revenues, annexation and forms of local government.
Jim Coley, who had been in the running early on for possibly chairman or vice chairman of House education, is vice chairman of House judiciary and does not serve on the education committee in the new session.
Memphis Democrats John and Lois DeBerry serve on education along with Republican Ron Lollar.