MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County is in the midst of early voting for the May 3 primary, but it’s the Memphis city council that’s making election news.
Councilman Martavius Jones formally introduced his proposal yesterday to make council and mayoral elections partisan. In addition, Jones is pushing for an extension of the council and mayoral terms from two to three.
From the looks of things, both proposals are shaping up to be highly divisive at future council meetings.
Currently, all city races are non-partisan, and naturally, the four council members who would identify as Republicans do not want the change – particularly since Memphis is a city that votes heavily Democratic. But I have said it before, and I will say it again. Moving to partisan political elections in city races is a bad idea, so is extending the current two four-year terms.
We already have enough partisan politics in this community with the county, state and federal elections, which means in today’s toxic climate, consensus and compromise are almost impossible to achieve. Plus, let’s be honest. In Memphis, Democrat and Republican – for the most part – are code words for Black and white.
The fact is, non-partisan elections have worked quite well in Memphis for decades. There is no good reason to switch and city voters have been clear that they prefer the two-term limit. Here’s hoping Jones’ proposals go down in defeat.