Memphis City Council to discuss residency requirements for mayoral candidates

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 6:19 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis City Council will start discussions regarding residency requirements for Memphis mayoral candidates Tuesday night.

“I want to be clear, this has no implication on the upcoming mayoral election,” said Councilmember JB Smiley Jr. “This is for every mayoral and council race after the 2023 election.”

Councilmember Smiley’s addendum on which race this pertains to comes after a curveball was thrown at the candidates for the upcoming election that will decide Memphis’ next leader.

Earlier in the month, a legal opinion was published that stated previous addendums hold that all Memphis mayors must live within the city limits no less than five years prior to taking office.

This issue is currently being challenged by two candidates who would be disqualified for becoming Memphis’ next mayor.

Both Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner and former Shelby County Commission Chair and NAACP Memphis President Van Turner have filed a lawsuit against the Shelby County Election Commission following the opinion’s release.

“To be very direct, I believe if [the five-year residency requirement] goes before a higher court, it will ultimately be declared unconstitutional,” Smiley said.

But Smiley also thinks it’s reasonable to require mayoral candidates to have a proven connection to the Bluff City.

That’s why he, along with a bipartisan list of cosponsors, want to make the uncontested one-year requirement the new rule to the race.

“We all want what’s best for the people of Memphis,” Councilman Smiley told Action News 5 on Tuesday. “But we want the people to decide how they want this to go.”

The ordinance passed out of committee and is up for first discussion Tuesday night in full city council.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

Click here to report a spelling or grammar error. Please include the headline.