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Runoff-election winners tout power of the people

Michalyn Easter-Thomas and Rhonda Logan – upset winners Thursday of the two Memphis City Council runoff elections – each attributed victory to a “power” surge.

Easter-Thomas, an educator, beat out incumbent Berlin Boyd in a landslide victory for the District 7 seat. Raleigh community activist Rhonda Logan defeated Sherman Greer, who earlier this year was selected by the council to fill out the District 1 term that remained after a resignation.

“It’s a show of people power,” Easter-Thomas said as she acknowledged the victory. “I’m ready to help Memphis move forward.”

On her official website, Logan put her win in this context: “This victory reflects the power of the vote and the voice of the people. … I am ready and excited for this opportunity and will work to move this District and the city forward.”

District 7 takes in Frayser, North Memphis, Downtown and Mud Island. With all 18 precincts reporting, the unofficial results showed Easter-Thomas with 2,036 of the votes. Boyd received 665.

In District 1, unofficial results with all 20 precincts reporting showed Logan with 1,034 of the votes and Greer with 802.

Logan’s victory comes after she previously sought out the District 1 seat just last year. She was only one council vote shy of being appointed to the position. Instead, Greer, a community college administrator, emerged as the council’s choice for the vacant seat.

Easter-Thomas and Boyd participated in one of the city’s most crowded races with 10 candidates vying for the District 7 seat in the October 3 Municipal Election. No one received the majority of the vote, leaving Easter -Thomas and Boyd as the two top candidates to head to a run-off.

After the general election, Easter-Thomas, joined forces with former District 7 candidates to help her defeat Boyd. She said – about her strategy – that the act of solidarity would show that the community demanded new leadership.

“Solidarity is the name of the game and that’s how you build community,” Easter-Thomas told The New Tri-State Defender in October. “He (Boyd) was elected to serve, but he puts his interests over others. This is the community speaking.”

Boyd served two separate interim tenures in the District 7 seat before winning his full four-year term in 2015. He came under fire when he headed up a task force on Beale Street security and said that he “forgot” to recuse himself from a vote that could have benefitted his then-client, the Beale Street Merchants Association.

Later, he caught flak for not disclosing a potential conflict, when he failed to put his employment by FedEx Logistics – a company he helped moved downtown – on a state ethics form.

Boyd has said that his nondisclosure was an “absolute mistake

Easter-Thomas also had the backing of several local labor unions, including AFSCME Local 1733, AFL-CIO Teamsters and the United Auto Workers. She was chosen as the “People’s Candidate’ for District 7 at the People’s Convention that took place in June.

Run-off elections typically have much lower turnouts than general elections. As Shelby County Election Commission officials predicted, less than 5,000 people voted in Thursday’s election.

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