Shelby County Commissioners share thoughts on reappointing Pearson after expulsion

Published: Apr. 7, 2023 at 5:57 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2023 at 5:59 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - On Thursday, Tennessee State Representative Justin Pearson (D-Memphis) lost his District 86 seat in an expulsion vote after participating in a gun reform protest on the House floor a week prior.

Pearson was elected to the seat in late January after the passing of Barbara Cooper.

Now it is up to the Shelby County Commissioners to appoint an interim representative for District 86.

Commission Chairman Mickell Lowery is expected to announce a date for that appointment Monday.

Shelby County Commissioners Charlie Caswell and Erika Sugarmon have gone on record saying that they will vote to re-appoint Pearson to his old seat.

Commissioners Mick Wright and Edmund Ford said they didn’t want to comment on their plans right now.

Wright, in response to what happened in the House Thursday night, added that both sides could do a better job of listening and respecting one another.

Commissioner Amber Mills told the Commercial Appeal she will not vote to reappoint Pearson since it might hurt Shelby County, possibly resulting in legislators blocking funds.

Democratic State Representative Larry Miller responded to Mills this morning.

“I would say to her, that’s the mentality of the Republicans if that’s how you are thinking,” Miller said. “It says exactly how the Republicans up here are thinking. ‘We will punish you if need be, if necessary.’ I think that’s hilarious. It is crazy. And hopefully, something like that will never ever happen.”

District 83 Representative Mark White told Action News 5 Friday, he is not opposed to the idea of reappointing Pearson, but says that Shelby County needs someone who can work with others.

“I would like to see the Shelby County Commission or the voters in that district to send someone up there that will represent the people of Shelby County,” White said. “We have a lot of needs down here; the district has a lot of needs. We need someone who knows how to work with other people.”

Vice President Kamala Harris came to Tennessee in the wake of the controversial vote, participating in a rally at Fisk University in the heart of Nashville.

After addressing Thursday’s events, the vice president commented on the removal of officials elected by the people as being undemocratic, while thanking the so-called “Tennessee Three” for standing up for justice.

Harris says the country needs the young leader, calling it a pivotal time to stand up.

“We will not be defeated, we will not be deterred, we will not throw up our hands when it’s time to roll up our sleeves,” she said.

The Shelby County Commission does have a Democratic supermajority.

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