VOL. 126 | NO. 222 | Monday, November 14, 2011
Harris Wins District 7 City Council Seat
By Bill Dries
The lineup for the 13-member Memphis City Council that takes office with the new year is complete.
The one new member joining 12 incumbents re-elected in the Oct. 6 city elections will be Lee Harris.
The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law professor won the Thursday, Nov. 10, runoff election, defeating Kemba Ford by a better than two-to-one margin in a low-turnout election that drew fewer than 4,000 voters to the polls.
With all 29 precincts reporting the unofficial results were:
Harris: 2,587 (67 percent)
Ford: 1,259 (33 percent)
Harris led from the early-vote totals through to the last precinct.
Harris and Ford advanced to the runoff after finishing at the top of a 14-candidate field in the Oct. 6 city elections for the only race on the ballot in which an incumbent was not seeking re-election.
Past district runoff elections have historically drawn low turnouts that amount to which candidate can get his or her supporters to the polls in early voting and on Election Day.
In Thursday’s District 7 runoff, Harris and Ford drew 116 fewer voters than their combined vote totals from Oct. 6, when Harris finished four votes ahead of Ford.
The 14-candidate field drew a total turnout of more than 8,000 votes in the October balloting.
The turnout in both rounds of voting in District 7 may have been dampened by the City Council’s late redrawing of district lines.
The District 7 lines changed dramatically just two days before the filing deadline for candidates, as new precincts from District 1 became part of District 7 and all of Downtown south of Poplar Avenue moved from District 7 to District 6.
Ford emphasized her family’s considerable political heritage. She is the daughter of former state Sen. John Ford.
Ford also had vocal support from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which tried to tie the outcome of the race to the ongoing dispute between municipal unions and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s administration over a 4.6 percent pay cut city employees are taking.