Legislation announced that would ease the process of recalling Shelby County Clerk

Legislation announced that would ease the process of recalling Shelby County Clerk
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 7:23 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - For a second week, the last one being August 22-26, the Shelby County Clerk’s Office has been closed, trying to address a backlog of applications for mainly license plates, car tags, and business licenses.

The issues that have been ailing the office has prompted legislation that would make it easier to recall an elected official, namely Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert.

“We can’t make excuses; we’ve got to find solutions,” said State Representative Mark White.

White, the Republican lawmaker for Tennessee’s 83rd District in Shelby County, announced his intent to file this legislation in response to the backlog the office has been dealing with since the late spring.

“We’ve heard for a long time that the lines at our license pick-up stations are way too long. We just need to do a better job of serving the public,” White said.

The legislation would require only 1% of registered county voters to recall an elected official instead of the current requirement of 15%.

A vote of “no confidence” would have to come first from a county legislative body.

White said he’s very confident this legislation would have bi-partisan support when the next general assembly begins in January and would have no problem being pushed through.

“We shouldn’t have to go through so much red tape to be able to do this,” said White. “I know, Mrs. Halbert. I’ve talked to her in the past. This is not personal to her. It’s for all people. The law says you have 180 days after being elected to office before you can have a recall anyway, so this is a long-term solution.”

The news of the intended legislation came to the frustration of Halbert.

“Why in the world would any kind of legislation be recommended to remove a county clerk who is obviously a whistleblower,” Halbert said.

In a press conference called Thursday afternoon, Halbert rehashed her frustrations with the county government, blaming them for the backlog her office has dealt with for months.

“The customers have been misled to believe that we all of a sudden had a hiccup, and everything just went haywire. No, we didn’t,” said Halbert. “(The Mayor’s Office) stopped our mail service, thinking we ran out of funds. We cannot run out of funds. The customers pay for their services when they place an order.”

Halbert says the county took funds from her office’s budget to go toward other county departments and that there is a deliberate attempt to make it appear as though her office is failing.

“The only reason we had to close was because of this created backlog. We didn’t have a backlog. You created a backlog,” said Halbert.

Regarding the backlog itself, Halbert did not have any exact numbers on how much of it has been addressed.

Halbert did say, however, that she does not think her office will have to close for a third week.

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