City of Memphis takes formal stance on 5-year residency requirement for mayoral candidates

Published: May. 1, 2023 at 7:24 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The answer to the question of how long you have to live in Memphis before you can run for mayor remains unclear.

That’s leaving candidates Van Turner, Floyd Bonner, and former mayor Willie Herenton with an uncertain future.

Monday in Shelby County Chancery Court, city officials formally accepted the legal opinion on a five-year residency requirement.

Attorneys representing Floyd Bonner and Van Turner argued that the city’s formal acceptance changes their legal strategy.

“I am happy to litigate against the City of Memphis,” said Robert Spence, representing Bonner. “I’m happy to have them take a chair up here and argue that their own ordinance, 4346, is invalid.”

As a part of the hearing, Chancellor Jenkins granted motions filed by Bonner and Turner to add the city to the case.

Jenkins also granted the plaintiffs’ request to maintain their mayoral position during the court process.

While attorneys for Bonner and Turner are fighting to keep their clients in the 2023 mayoral race, a motion to intervene was filed by another candidate.

Mayoral hopeful JW Gibson is asking that the opinion be enforced.

That opinion also elicited a tweet from candidate Michelle McKissack, who said in part, “I am glad that the City of Memphis Government is standing up for Memphians and acknowledging that the five-year residency requirement is the law.”

Trial has been delayed until May 18.

For the next hearing, attorneys for the city, Bonner and Turner are calling additional witnesses.

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