MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Community organizer Justin Pearson won the special election to replace the late Tennessee State Representative Barbara Cooper with 52% of the vote.
Ten Democrats were vying for the Tennessee House District 86 seat.
Representative Cooper was the oldest-serving legislator in Tennessee when she died in October at 93.
Under Tennessee law, her name remained on the Nov. 8 ballot in House District 86. She won, creating a vacancy in the seat.
Pearson, 28, was valedictorian at Mitchell High School and graduated from Bowdoin College in 2017.
He is the president and founder of Memphis Community Against Pollution (MCAP) and co-founder of Memphis Community against the Pipeline. The organization stopped a major oil pipeline from running through his Southwest Memphis neighborhood.
According to his campaign website, Pearson is also the co-lead and the strategic advisor for the Poor People’s Campaign: National Call for Moral Revival. He also helped lead a national workforce development non-profit, Year Up, which focused on social, racial, and economic justice and has received numerous awards.
Cooper was among the oldest lawmakers in the country. She was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1996.