City term limits extension fails again, ending reelection hopes for Strickland, others

By , Daily Memphian Updated: August 05, 2022 1:51 AM CT | Published: August 05, 2022 12:40 AM CT
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For the second time in four years, Memphis voters have overwhelmingly said no to the idea of extending term limits on the Memphis Mayor and the Memphis City Council.

The proposed city charter amendment, put on the ballot by the current Memphis City Council, would have expanded the current limit of two consecutive terms to three consecutive terms.

It also would have allowed the current mayor and City Council members to run for a third term in the 2023 city elections.

Shelby County’s ‘big ballot’ Election Day arrives with theme of change

With all 98 of the city’s precincts reporting, the unofficial vote totals on the question were:

Yes: 26,305

No: 51,659

Four years ago, the city council put a similar term limits extension proposal with different wording on the ballot. It was defeated with 60% of voters voting no.

This time around, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced he would seek a third term in 2023 if the measure was approved by voters. 

Previously Strickland had said he had no interest in a third term and when he sought reelection in 2019 to a second term said it would his last campaign.

What to watch for in the election night vote totals

The defeat of the city charter amendment ends the possibility of a third term mayoral bid by Strickland. And Strickland did not campaign for the ballot question.

Memphis City Council member Martavius Jones proposed the term limits expansion but only for city council members.

When the ballot question ordinance was amended to include the mayor, Jones was the only no vote against it at final passage.

Jones has another referendum ordinance for the November ballot pending before council that would allow the local Democratic and Republican parties to hold primary elections ahead of the city general election to nominate candidates.

Jones didn’t appear to have the votes for final passage of the ordinance to put it on the ballot and tabled it to see how the term limits question fared this month.

Memphis mayor potentials recalculate after Strickland announces possible third term

Meanwhile, Democratic Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris won a second term of office handily in the unofficial and delayed results, leading a second blue wave to victory in countywide offices in a repeat of the 2018 Democratic sweep.

Democratic challenge Steve Mulroy defeated Republican incumbent District Attorney General Amy Weirich in the other most-watched countywide race on the long ballot.

The Shelby County Commission that takes office Sept. 1 will have a nine-vote Democratic majority by the unofficial results.

The current commission that leaves office at the end of the month has an eight-member Democratic majority. 

Democratic nominee and former MSCS board member Shante Avant boosted the majority to nine as she took the new District 5 commission seat built around population growth in the Cordova area.

Prior to last year’s redistricting of the commission the Cordova area was divided among four commission districts.

Democratic Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert survived a challenge to her second term from an experienced Republican challenger and was perhaps the biggest upset of the county general election ballot.

Halbert defeated Republican challenger Jeff Jacobs, a 22-year veteran of the clerk’s office.

A late effort by the local Republican party in behalf of Jacobs was ultimately too late, even as Halbert’s office struggled with a backlog of thousands of new license plates and car-renewal tags that Halbert insisted wasn’t her fault.


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Bill Dries

Bill Dries

Bill Dries covers city and county government and politics. He is a native Memphian and has been a reporter for more than 40 years.


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