Lonnie Treadaway has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Dist. 1 Memphis City Council seat – a move that was made known Wednesday during a specially-called council meeting with only five members in attendance.
That left only one candidate, Rhonda Logan, in the race to succeed Bill Morrison, who is the county’s new Probate Court Clerk.
It was the latest development in what has become a saga – some say a quagmire – to fill the seat. Four council members – Patrice Robinson, Martavius Jones, Jamita Swearengen and Joe Brown – walked out of Tuesday’s regular council meeting, leaving Chairman Berlin Boyd with no quorum as council members were attempting to elect Morrison’s successor.
Wednesday’s meeting was called under a clause in the City Charter that allows council members to call meetings every day to compel a quorum so that business can be conducted. And there is the specter of a lawsuit to force Brown, Jones, Swearengen and Robinson to show up.
None of the four attended Wednesday’s meeting. Another meeting was scheduled for Thursday (Dec. 6) at 4 p.m.
Boyd waited 15 minutes past the 4 p.m. starting time to take his seat and adjourned the session after no quorum was present. He said council members should put aside personal issues and talk through their differences.
“At the end of the day, we have to conduct the people’s business of this city,” he said.
Councilman Kemp Conrad said he was disappointed and “real sad” that there was no quorum on Wednesday, citing important issues – other than filling the seat – that needed to be dealt with.
Councilman Worth Morgan echoed those sentiments.
The council is operating two members short after the departure of Edmund Ford Jr. and Janice Fullilove, who are now a county commissioner and the new Juvenile Court Clerk respectively.
A marathon meeting where over 100 separate votes were taken Nov. 20 ended in a deadlock between Logan, who is the Raleigh Community Development Corp. executive director, and Treadaway, Flynn Boadcasting’s national sales manager.
Treadaway, who spoke to media afterwards, said, “It’s been a tough couple of weeks. …I’ve had people say things and write things that never even gave me a call; that know nothing about me because they didn’t want to know anything about me. I’m a very open book.”
Treadaway ran for an alderman’s seat in Senatobia, Miss., a year and a half ago then moved back to Memphis last July.
City Attorney Allan Wade said he thinks Treadaway “saw the handwriting on the wall’’ after Tuesday’s meeting.
“It’s pretty apparent there wasn’t a consensus and that there probably would never be,” Wade said.
After the walkout Tuesday, Robinson said, “We had to make a statement that we were not going to go along with the okey-doke.
“Sometimes as a community and as an elected official we have to stand our ground and this time we decided we had to stand our ground,” she said.
The four council members walked out of the meeting of 10 members after two rounds of voting did not produce a winner between the two challengers and there was a call to open up the voting to include other qualified candidates.
Brown said the Raleigh community had indicated that they wanted Logan to be their leader.
“…It was probably getting down to be a racial conflict,” Brown said. “The majority of that area are Democrats and they are African Americans. So they (other council members) want us to put a Republican in that seat who has not lived in the district for quite some time, not even in Memphis and who ran for public office in Senatobia, Miss. and he lost.
“We made a stance that’s going to make history to let other public officials know that strength is unity.”
Jones agreed that the election process was not headed in the right direction.
“We have rules and procedures in place,” he said. “ I’m proud to stand with these folks who say we were going down the road to where it (election) was not going to be fair or consistent.”
The Rev. Earle Fisher of Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church attended Tuesday’s meeting. Afterwards, he said, “From a grassroots and community perspective, it is refreshing to see council members who recognize they have been elected to represent the broadest scope of our community.”
Fisher said he is associated with some groups that he thinks will partner with the council members in their efforts to achieve better representation for the citizens of Memphis.