VOL. 133 | NO. 180 | Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Van Turner to Lead Shelby County Commission in First Year of New Term
Special to The Daily News
The Shelby County Commission on Monday elected commissioner Van Turner as chairman and commissioner Mark Billingsley as vice-chairman for the 2018-19 year in its first meeting of their four-year terms in office.
The commission’s votes to approve Turner, a Democrat, and Billingsley, a Republican, as chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, upholds the recent tradition of having a Democrat and Republican in the chairman and vice chairman positions.
“I think it was important and critical for this first year to stay with the standard,” Turner said. “The county is diverse, so we want to make sure that this commission is diverse and sometimes you hate to get caught up on the Democratic, Republican split, but it’s something we have to deal with and work through. I’m pleased to serve with pro tempore Billingsley. He will do a fine job as vice chair. Hopefully, we will have a unified body that will move the county forward.”
Billingsley echoed the same sentiments about Turner and said they will be a “great team.”
“I know Van and I plan to bridge as many relationships as we can, for the better of Shelby County,” he said. “I think Van and I are very supportive of Mayor (Lee) Harris, and we just want to be there as a unified body to help the new administration.”
Turner and Billingsley are two of the five returning commissioners along with Democrats Reginald Milton, Eddie Jones and former vice-chairman Willie Brooks.
Monday’s meeting was the first for the eight new county commissioners, Democrats Tami Sawyer, Michael Whaley, Mickell Lowery and Edmund Ford and Republicans Amber Mills, David Bradford, Brandon Morrison and Mick Wright. The Democrats now hold an eight-to-five majority on the commission.
While the agenda was light, the commission unanimously approved Harris’ appointed chief administrative officer Patrice Thomas. Thomas had previously served as deputy chief operating officer for the city of Memphis.
The county commission unanimously also approved a resolution to name the county building at 201 Poplar Ave. “The Walter L. Bailey, Jr. Justice Center” after former longtime commissioner Walter Bailey, who served on the county commission for 44 years in total.