MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some elected leaders are demanding clarification from the city attorney as a debate over residency requirements for Memphis mayoral candidates continues.
Even though the election date for the next city mayor is months away, confusion still looms large over how long a candidate has to live in Memphis to be mayor.
City Council Chairman Martavius Jones said the council has heard from their attorney Allen Wade on the residency requirements.
“I think the public deserves to know where did the city stand, and to me, it’s the city attorney’s position to defend whatever the charter says,” Jones said.
But he’s now sponsoring a resolution to hear from City Attorney Jennifer Sink and wants more clarification on the charter, residency, and candidates.
“I didn’t agree with our council’s (Allen Wade) position on that. His position was somebody could move into Memphis 30 days before the election and be the mayor of Memphis, and I felt that was a ridiculous opposition,” Jones said.
During a court hearing Monday, Memphis City attorney Jennifer Sink said that the city’s five-year residency requirement is in effect. As WREG has reported, Sheriff Floyd Bonner, NAACP President Van Turner, and former Mayor Willie Herenton could have residency issues.
When we reached out to Sheriff Bonner, he said, “The voters of Memphis voted in 1996 to do away with a dated residency requirement from the 1800s, and we are fighting to make sure the people’s voice is heard. Make no mistake, my campaign will win in court on May 18th, I will be on the ballot and change is coming to Memphis!”
Van Turner also said he believes the May 18 court date will help resolve the residency debate.
“I’m confident I’ll be able to run,” Turner said. “Now that the city is involved, everything will be placed on the table, and I think at the end of the day, it’ll be comprehensive, and it’s better to get everything resolved on May 18th and not have lingering issues on into the election.”
A spokesman for Dr. Willie Herenton said the residency issue is a non-issue and will not impact his effort to become mayor.