The past haunts Collierville alderman candidate

By , Daily Memphian Updated: November 15, 2020 1:56 PM CT | Published: November 15, 2020 4:00 AM CT

William Boone is facing more than opponent Missy Marshall as he tries to secure the open Alderman Position 4 seat in Collierville’s Dec. 8 runoff.


Collierville voters to decide 2 races in Dec. 8 runoffs


He has a bit of history with the town where he is seeking office.

There are questions about his tenure as a firefighter with the town, issues that led to him filing a lawsuit against Collierville after he left. Additionally, the candidate has several bankruptcies in his past.

Boone is seeking the remaining two years of Tom Allen’s alderman’s position, which became vacant when Allen died this past summer.

Thus far, Marshall has not made any of the matters an issue in her campaign for the office. She declined comment when asked about Boone’s past.

Boone states he retired after almost 31 years with Collierville Fire Department, but a 2018 lawsuit in Shelby County Chancery Court shows he sued the town following his termination.

<strong>Boone is a former firefighter.</strong>

Boone is a former firefighter.

According to town and court records, Boone was fired for violating the town’s bullying policy and making allegations about the job to town officials.

“His conduct created disharmony in the workplace (and) had a detrimental impact on close personal relationships for which personal loyalty and confidence are necessary,” the town’s defense against the lawsuit states.

Boone first sued Collierville in 2016, claiming he was dismissed for talking to aldermen, a factor he considered a violation of his free speech and state law. The case was filed with the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Boone’s lawsuit was dismissed in 2017, the court stating the fire chief did not have to endure actions disruptive to the department. 

In 2018, Boone filed the claims in Shelby County Chancery Court stating Jerry Crawford — the chief at the time — showed favoritism toward firefighters living in Fayette County. Crawford eventually retired from Collierville and became chief of Fayette County Fire Department.


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Boone took his concerns to Allen and fellow alderman Billy Patton, although court documents state Allen did most of the talking. Allen then told the board of low morale among fire department employees, according to the town’s legal defense.

Town Administrator James Lewellen launched an investigation, talking to a number of employees, including Boone. In a meeting, Boone told Lewellen that Crawford should be fired. In its defense, the town said Boone made false claims during the conversation. The town also noted some fire department employees asked to be moved because they feared working with Boone.

Boone would have preferred an external investigation.

He took a leave of absence unrelated to work in the fall of 2014, but he returned in February 2015. Boone said by phone , he was asked to resign in March 2015, but not given reason why. 

On March 27, 2015, Crawford terminated Boone at the recommendation of Human Resources Director Jay Jeffries.

“(Boone) undermined the authority of the chief and the assistant chief, affected the proper functioning of the Town Fire Department and caused an unnecessary investigation that cost time and money and took several employees away from their job,” the town’s 2018 defense stated.

The town tried to dismiss the 2018 complaint by Boone citing a procedural error. The court allowed an interim appeal, and the Court of Appeals dismissed Boone’s case in August 2019. Boone’s subsequent appeal to the state Supreme Court was denied.

<strong>William Boone</strong>

William Boone

“Mr. Boone tried to distort the reason for his termination. The charges against him were clear,” Lewellen said late last week. “His dismissal was based on his actions and behaviors against his fellow firefighters. That is what the courts ultimately determined and is why his dismissal was justified.” 

As for his reason for the lawsuit, Boone said: “I am a person that protects this city. I am a protector of what goes on in this city. I want to make sure this city is protected and not taken advantage of.”

He believed there was favoritism in the department and not equal opportunity of jobs and promotions.

Patton still disagrees with Boone’s firing, although he wasn’t aware of any bullying. He believed Boone’s allegations were true.

Boone also has dealt with financial problems, declaring bankruptcy three times.

The first time was in 1994. Boone said he was the “bread-winner” for a family of nine. He also claims he was young.

“Did I learn after that? I’ve learned a whole lot,” he stated.

He declared bankruptcy again in 2007, according to public records, which Boone said was due to family matters.

His third bankruptcy came in 2015, after his firing from the fire department and dealing with some medical costs for himself and his father. Records show he is still currently dealing with that filing, but he said it is almost resolved.

One of the biggest decisions the board makes each year is the budget, and Boone believes his experience in hard financial situations makes him suited for the job.

This isn’t Boone’s first run for office. He ran against Maureen Fraser for Position 1 in 2018. Fraser won with nearly 65% of the vote, according to certified totals.


Six seeking Alderman Position 4; runoff likely


While Boone and Marshall face off for Position 4, incumbent Alderman John Worley will try to retain his seat as he faces challenger Harold Booker in another Dec. 8 runoff.


Booker, Swan challenging Worley for Collierville Alderman Position 3


Shelby County Election Commission will meet Friday to verify dates and times for early voting as well as polling sites for the runoff election.

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Topics

Collierville 2020 runoff collierville Collierville 2020 election Collierville Board Of Mayor And Aldermen William Boone James Lewellen Shelby County Chancery Court Tennessee Court of Appeals
Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren is a lifelong resident of Shelby County and a graduate of the University of Memphis. She has worked for several local publications and covers the suburbs for The Daily Memphian.


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