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VOL. 130 | NO. 228 | Monday, November 23, 2015

Voters Fill in City Hall Blanks In Last Election of Busy 2015

By Bill Dries

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The 2015 election season was put to rest last week: A low-turnout set of five Memphis City Council runoff elections filled in the blanks of what will be a different City Hall starting in 2016.

City Hall will welcome several more new faces in 2016 after voters in the Nov. 19 Memphis City Council runoffs elected four new members and returned an appointed incumbent to the council.

(Daily News File Photo)

With a 4.8 percent turnout across the turf of five single-member City Council districts, voters in the Thursday, Nov. 19, non-partisan council runoff races defined the new council that takes office in January. The 13-member body will include six new faces.

Frank Colvett Jr., Worth Morgan, Patrice Jordan Robinson and Jamita Swearengen were the runoff winners.

They join Super District council members Martavius Jones and Philip Spinosa, who were elected Oct. 8. (Runoffs do not apply to super district and citywide elections.)

Appointed incumbent council member Berlin Boyd won a full four-year term Thursday, defeating challenger Anthony Anderson.

Boyd was appointed earlier this year to fill the vacancy created by Lee Harris’ election to the Tennessee Senate.

Incumbent council members Joe Brown, Kemp Conrad, Edmund Ford Jr., Janis Fullilove, Reid Hedgepeth and Bill Morrison were re-elected on Oct. 8. For all six, the new term will be their second of two consecutive terms allowed under term limits, which took effect in 2011.

The wins by Swearengen and Robinson increase the number of women on the council from two to three. Wanda Halbert leaves the body at the end of the year, passing on a re-election bid for an unsuccessful run at City Court clerk.

Swearengen and Robinson join Fullilove, who last week chastised fellow councilmen for “disrespecting” women. Those criticisms followed her loss in the council’s annual election of a vice chairman for the coming year.

Fullilove also called out Boyd, in particular, for not supporting her, saying she hoped he would lose and pledging to help Anderson win Thursday’s race. Boyd won by 487 votes.

Boyd and Fullilove sit next to each other in the council chambers, an arrangement that is a textbook example of the close quarters politicians keep even after the votes are counted.

Robinson and Jones are former Shelby County Schools board members who supported the 2010 decision that kicked off the merger of Shelby County’s two public school systems. Jones proposed the resolution that started the process.

For only the second time in the 47-year history of Memphis’ mayor-council form of government, an incumbent mayor lost a re-election bid.

Mayor-elect Jim Strickland takes office Jan. 1. Changes to both city division leadership and city administration structure are likely with Strickland at the helm.

Looking ahead

The next political season isn’t far away. The filing deadline for the lone Shelby County primary election on the March 1 ballot is Dec. 10.

So far incumbent General Sessions Court clerk Ed Stanton is the only contender in the clerk’s race who had pulled a petition as of Thursday’s election day, according to the Shelby County Election Commission’s website. Stanton is running in the Democratic primary.

The clerk’s primary shares the ballot with the Tennessee Democratic and Republican presidential primaries on March 1.

PROPERTY SALES 76 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 83 131 1,047
BUILDING PERMITS 190 277 3,028