SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Monday was a busy one for Shelby County Board of Commissioners, from hiring a new health department director to electing a new chair to lead the commission. Also, the controversy over new voting machines also came up. This was the first meeting for the commissioners after a 5-week hiatus.
After an outpouring of public support, commissioners moved quickly to unanimously appoint Dr.. Michelle Taylor as Shelby county's next top health official. The nomination process of Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris' pick for director was marred by controversy over a leaked memo from a search panel, which revealed the panel didn't think she was the best candidate for the job.
When Shelby County Commissioner Mark Billingsley asked Mayor Harris during a meeting last week if there were unfavorable recommendations about Dr. Taylor, Harris said no. The situation quickly sparked outrage, beginning with the Shelby County Black Caucus, which suggested racial overtones, accusing Billingsly of questioning Harris' leadership.
Monday, Billingsly, asked Taylor to the podium to offer an apology, explaining his concern was over Lee's honesty in his response to his earlier question. For his part, Harris merely blamed the controversy on the politicization of COVID.
The vote would not be favorable on a months-long debate over new voting equipment for Shelby County elections. The proposed $3 million paper tracking system failed after long deliberation between the elections chair and commissioners. The Shelby County Election Commission has threatened a lawsuit over the system selection process.