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Runoff election was winning time for Green, Walker and Easter-Thomas

For the first time since the current form of government was adopted 55 years ago, women will wield a majority on the Memphis City Council after a trio of female candidates won office during the runoff election held on Nov. 16.

The first City Council took office Jan. 1, 1968 after the current City Charter was approved by Memphis voters in a 1966 referendum.

Jerri Green, Pearl Walker, and Michalyn Easter-Thomas will join Janika White, Jana Swearengen-Washington, Yolanda Cooper Sutton, and Rhonda Logan on the 13-member Council.

Easter-Thomas will serve her second term representing District 7. The incumbent handily defeated clothing store owner Jimmy Hassan, with a 966-504 vote.

The other races were more competitive.

After several lead changes during the runoff, Green claimed a 56-vote margin in the District 2 race. The attorney and special advisor surprised former council member Scott McCormick, with a 1,752-1,696 win. The race saw the biggest turnout.

The district was once held by Gwen Aswumb, the first woman to be elected to the council in 1967.

Pearl Walker will represent District 3 on the next Memphis City Council. She won election in her second try. (Courtesy photo)

Walker defeated former Memphis Police officer James Kirkwood 781-767 for a slim, 14-vote margin in District 3. It was the Whitehaven activist’s second run at the office. She was active in the fight against the canceled Byhalia pipeline project, which was planned to run through historic Black neighborhoods in Southwest Memphis.

“Still can’t believe it,” said Walker of her win. “For the run-off leg of my campaign I hired Lynn Whitney of Lynn Whitney consulting … who brought really good structure…. We were focused, we had specific goals and timelines, we raised money and we received help from various organizations. It was just a good team and everyone got along.”

A majority of voters in the runoff election for District 2 chose Jerri Green to represent them on the new Memphis City Council. (Courtesy photo)

Green thanked her Team on Tough Mother team with a message that recounted that “this campaign was about creating a safer Memphis and bringing new perspectives to City Council. We are doing just that.”

Noting that the Council will have a majority of women for the first time, Green shared that, “Bringing new ideas and fresh perspectives, we are sure to make a difference for the better for our community.”

There are no runoffs in citywide races, while runoffs are required in the district elections, if no candidate receives 50 percent, plus one, in the general election. This year’s election was Oct. 5.

Following a trend set last month, the races netted 6,477 (including write-ins) out of 157,534 potential votes in all three districts, for a 4.1 percent turnout.

The citywide races, which included all council seats, gathered just 85,000 votes, less than a 23 percent turnout.

When city government officials are sworn in for their new four-year terms on Jan. 1, Memphis will have a new mayor, Paul Young, and five new members on the 13-member City Council.

(This story includes a TSD Newsroom report.)

 

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