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VOL. 126 | NO. 206 | Friday, October 21, 2011

Ford, Harris Vie for Council District 7 Seat

By Bill Dries

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Early voting opens Friday, Oct. 21, for the last election of 2011 in Shelby County. The race is the runoff for the District 7 Memphis City Council seat between Kemba Ford and Lee Harris. Election Day is Nov. 10.

Harris and Ford were the top two contenders among 14 people who sought the only position on the Oct. 6 city of Memphis ballot in which an incumbent was not seeking re-election.

It was the largest field of contenders on the ballot and no one got a majority of the votes cast. In district City Council races, that means the top two contenders advance to a runoff election.

Early voting runs through Oct. 31 at the Shelby County Election Commission, 157 Poplar Ave.

Early voting expands to two other locations in addition to the election commission from Nov. 1 through Nov. 5. The locations are Dave Wells Community Center, 915 Chelsea Ave., and Shiloh Baptist Church, 3121 Range Line Road.

Voting at the election commission is noon to 5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Voting at the community center and church is 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. There is no early voting on Sundays.

Harris, a professor at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, finished four votes ahead of Ford, an actress, model and daughter of former state Sen. John Ford.

Each had 24 percent of the vote in the contest to fill the seat Barbara Swearengen Ware was elected to in 2007. She resigned earlier this year after taking judicial diversion on an official misconduct charge. The council appointed Berlin Boyd to fill her seat. Boyd did not run in the Oct. 6 election.

Harris was among the contenders in the 2006 Democratic primary for the Ninth Congressional district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives won by current Congressman Steve Cohen.

The council race is the first for Ford as a candidate. But politics is not new territory for Ford given her father’s career in politics and that of his brothers and sisters who are the city’s best known political family.

A member of the Ford family has held the District 6 seat on the Memphis City Council since 1972 when her father took office after upsetting incumbent James Netters – the first ever defeat of a council incumbent.

Her cousin, Edmund Ford Jr., won re-election to the District 6 seat in the Oct. 6 elections. A Ford victory in the runoff would mean two members of the family on the 13-member body.

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