Shelby County commissioner calls for resignation of County Clerk Wanda Halbert

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 7:12 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - More turmoil in the Shelby County Clerk’s Office.

Shelby County Commissioner Mick Wright is calling for Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert to resign.

The latest bump in the road: more locations could close if new office space isn’t secured.

The leases on two clerk’s offices, the one at Poplar Plaza at Poplar and Highland, and the one in Whitehaven on Elvis Presley, are soon to expire.

The new Riverdale location in Southeast Memphis, which was supposed to open a year ago, is still closed.

At this point, Commissioner Wright wants Clerk Halbert to go.

“I’m calling for Clerk Halbert to step down,” Wright told Action News 5. “It’s not anything personal, and it’s not anything I look forward to doing. But it’s just a pattern of behavior, and it’s having dramatic consequences for the citizens.”

Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert
Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert

Wright said he has reached his limit with the problems plaguing the Shelby County Clerk’s Office.

He said he’s lost all faith in Clerk Halbert after the disastrous roll-out of new state tags, week-long closures while employees caught up on the backlog of dealer packets, and now leasing issues.

Lines are already long, and the patience of many Shelby Countians is wearing thin.

Emails obtained by Action News 5 show Finard Properties Real Estate Director, Rick Smith, emailed Halbert about alternative locations back in September.

With the Poplar Plaza lease set to expire in June, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris gave Halbert an ultimatum last week: pick a location by March 24 or the Shelby County Commission and the Shelby County District Attorney will begin a dereliction of duty investigation that could lead to her ouster.

Clerk Halbert said she’s looking at the old Regions Bank on Quince at Perkins as a possible short-term lease. She also said the Riverdale location hasn’t opened yet because it’s not fully staffed.

In a letter to the Commission Chairman Mickell Lowery, Halbert called the accusations against her: “lies, rumors, innuendos, and misrepresentations.”

“I am an independent elected official,” she wrote. “The mayor is not my boss.”

As recently as last month, Smith sent Halbert an email that said, “Just another ping in hopes to avoid some misery, especially for the customers! I sure would like to have you in new and more appropriate spaces at both properties. All I can do is remind you of the ticking clock.”

For Commissioner Wright, time has already run out for Clerk Halbert.

“I think all the commissioners have heard it from citizens that they’re experiencing long lines, long delays and they just want us to take care of business,” said Wright.

Clerk Halbert is scheduled to appear before the Shelby County Commission Wednesday afternoon.

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