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In first meeting, Memphis City Council approves three appointments from Mayor Paul Young

With 17 posts to fill within the city of Memphis government, Memphis City Council members Tuesday (Jan. 9) unanimously approved three of new Mayor Paul Young’s nominees, including a holdover from the previous administration.

With same-night minutes approval, the current Memphis Fire Department Chief Gina Sweat, City Attorney Tannera Gibson and Information Services Director Eric Keane can begin their duties immediately.

The procedural maneuver was requested by City of Memphis Mayor Paul Young, so the trio can begin their duties immediately.

Gibson, a partner at the Burch, Porter & Johnson law firm, will remain at the firm, but is “de-equitizing” her position while employed by the city. The practice dates to former Mayor Willie Herenton’s administration. She is also the first Black female President of the Board of the Directors of the Memphis Bar Association.

“I’ve worked with attorney Gibson for over 12 or 13 years. When I tell you she is absolutely one of our brilliant legal minds in Memphis, Tenn; I would even say abroad. She is, in fact, a super lawyer. She does not mind leading the charge,” first-year council member and fellow attorney Janika White praised.

Gibson is joined by Keane, who leaves his position as vice president and chief information officer of FedEx Logistics and FedEx Express. He also serves on the board of advisors to the United Nations World Food Programme. His city appointment is his first government job.

Sweat, meanwhile, will return to her post as the fire chief of the Memphis Fire Department. 

Prior to the vote, a council member related a recent house fire he reported to 911 that drew a quick response from the department.

“The house was boarded up and abandoned, but they operated as if they might have been a life in there. Everything about how they operated…it was precision. It was unbelievable to watch. These professionals do their job…,” said Councilman Chase Carlisle.

With the inclusion of interim COO Antonio Adams, CFO Walter Person, and interim General Services Director Melvin Jamerson, six of the city’s top posts are filled. Interim division heads do not require council approval. 

During the meeting, members had a chance to meet with the remaining nominees, who will receive their first votes during the council’s Jan. 23 meeting. They will be joined by Memphis Police Department Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis, who failed to win reappointment approval Tuesday by vote of six yes and seven no votes during a committee meeting.

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