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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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FOLLOW-UP: Shelby County Dems sticking with Michael Harris as chair

After months of controversy, Michael Harris will remain the chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party. The decision was made during a closed meeting held by the party’s executive committee at Solid Rock Christian Church on Tuesday evening.

Harris retained the chairman’s post with an 18-9 vote by the committee. Party Vice Chairman, Sarah Beth Larsen chaired the meeting, which lasted about an hour. During the session, Harris stated his case, while party treasurer, and co-filer of the grievance, presented the case against him.

Although Harris was officially elected in April, three party members called for the re-evaluation of his position, even going as far as to write a grievance to the Tennessee Democratic Party. The situation escalated during the first meeting of the year when party member Sanjeev Memula motioned for a special-called meeting to reconsider Harris’ election.

Memula and two other party members, ­Sarah Turner and Julie Byrd-Ashworth, filed the grievance with the state Democratic Party, citing improper voting practices during the election, when Harris was selected. The trio’s complaint was denied and the complainants were directed back to the local Shelby County party.

Harris agreed to the special meeting even though several other party members condemned the actions of Memula and the other complainants.

“Because I believe in fairness, I believe in democracy. I, as chair, will call the special meeting,” Harris said during the meeting earlier this month.

There were also complaints against Harris’ professional history. Citing client misconduct, the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended his law license in 2017. Additionally, some party members addressed concerns of him having filed bankruptcy eight times between May 2016 and May 2017.

Despite those issues, some party members sided with Harris, noting that his personal and professional issues happened before he was elected party chairman.

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