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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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Residency rules – Council says let voters decide

Memphis voters next year will get a chance to decide how long candidates for mayor and City Council must live in Memphis prior to an election.

The council on Tuesday (April 25) approved the third reading and final vote to place a residency referendum on the August 2024 ballot.

The council’s vote will not impact the upcoming Oct. 5 city elections. If voters approve the referendum, it will go into effect for the 2027 city elections. 

Voters also will decide whether to lower the requirement for mayoral and council candidates from 30 years to 18 years old.

The council’s vote took place as residency requirements for Memphis mayor are in litigation.

Two mayoral candidates – Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. and Memphis NAACP President Van Turner Jr., a former Shelby County commissioner – have sued the Shelby County Election Commission for enforcing the five-year residency requirement. The lawsuits have been combined.

Neither has lived in Memphis for five years.

The litigation could settle conflicting legal opinions, regarding residency. Attorney Robert Meyers, former Election Commission chairman, has opined that the five-year residency requirement is still in effect.

City Council attorney Allan Wade has written opinions saying it is not in effect, citing a 1996 vote.

The city administration has not weighed in on the matter.


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