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Voting Smart, continued: Our Recommendations in the Memphis City Council Runoff Elections

October 31, 2015

Early voting began today and runs through November 14 for the Memphis City Council runoff elections. Election Day is November 19. Five positions in the October 8, 2015 election will be decided:

District 2: Frank Colvett vs. Rachel Knox

District 3:  Patrice Jordan Robinson vs. Keith O. Williams 

District 4:  Doris DeBerry Bradshaw vs. Jamita E. Swearengen 

District 5:  Worth Morgan vs. Dan Springer

District 7:  Anthony Anderson vs. Berlin Boyd (I)  

Six incumbent Council members won another term, pulling a majority of votes in their districts:

  • District 1:  Bill Morrison  (with  78.4% of the vote)
  • District 6:  Edmund Ford, Jr.  (74%)
  • Super District 8, Position 1: Joe Brown (71.9%)
  • Super District 8, Position 2:  Janis Fullilove (78.2%)
  • Super District 9, Position 1:  Kemp Conrad (72.4%)
  • Super District 9, Position 3:  Reid Hedgepeth (64.7%)

Former Memphis City Schools Board member and President Martavius D. Jones won the Super District 8, Position 3 seat on the Council capturing 45% of the vote, and newcomer Phillip C. Spinosa won the Super District 9, Position 2 race with  49.4% of the vote.

Back in River City’s 2015 Vote Smart Guide to Memphis Elections published in September provides information and recommendations on the candidates now facing runoffs.  Here are our additional thoughts as you prepare to head back to the polls.

our opinion

First, do make the effort to vote in the runoffs. Voting participation is consistently dreadful in local runoff elections. The selection of who represents your voice in the management of Memphis matters. If you visit the polls during early voting, it will be a quick in-and-out.

Second. Seven Council incumbents will be involved in leading Memphis for the next four years, including Mayor-Elect Jim Strickland, who is exiting as District 5’s representative. The newcomers will have significant influence in determining the group dynamics and culture of our city’s principal governing body.  Let’s hold them accountable for honesty, integrity, preparation, cooperation, civility, thoughtful planning, listening to (and representing the wishes of) their constituents, and effective policy-making. And definitely no pole dancing.


Third.  Too many of our elected Council members are current or former school board members or employees of Memphis City Schools/Shelby County Schools. The decisions of City Council members should be completely independent of their private and professional interests. Memphis can find better Council representation than those associated with a governmental agency  (past or present) known for  inefficiencies, bad decisions, nepotism, incompetent workers, and failure.


Refer to Back in River City’s Vote Smart general election guide for additional information on the candidates.

District Two

In District 2, Frank Colvett won 49.7% of the general election vote against Rachel Knox’s 22.6%.

rachel knox

Rachel Knox

Rachel Knox, a 2011 Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate of the University of Memphis, is to be congratulated for winning a runoff spot in a tough race of four. As  the Orpheum’s  Education Coordinator, she organizes  workshops for teachers and manages an internal grant program providing students exposure to the arts. She was inspired to enter local politics just over a year ago after making an impassioned speech before the City Council on behalf of fire, police and other city workers facing pension and benefit cuts as a result of the City’s financial crisis.

Frank Colvett

Frank Colvett

Frank Colvett is co-owner of a family landscape and irrigation business. He is an employer in a city whose populace is massively underemployed. He knows first-hand the problems confronting local businesses seeking to survive in a competitive market while government officials favor set-asides for “disadvantaged minorities.” We believe Mr. Colvett would bring a much-needed skill set to the Council.  Back in River City recommends Frank Colvett in the District 2 race.

District Three

Patrice Jordan Robinson won 48.5% of the general election vote to Keith O. Williams’ 20.8%. Ms Robinson served on the Memphis City Schools Board for 13 years and also served as its President.  She has been employed by MCS and MLG&W. Mr. Williams is a retired Shelby County Schools teacher and immediate past president of the local teachers union. Back in River City makes no recommendation in this race.

District Four

The runoff is between retired Bank of America employee Doris DeBerry-Bradshaw (33.1% of the vote) and Jamita E. Swearengen (24.5%).  Ms Swearengen is employed by Shelby County Schools. The Commercial Appeal reported in July that Ms Swearengen owed back taxes on multiple properties in Memphis. Back in River City makes no recommendation in this race.

District Five

Worth Morgan (32%) and Dan Springer (23.4%) made the runoff in District 5.

Good news for residents of District 5! Back in River City’s Eddie Settles recently interviewed both candidates, and we feel that either would be an excellent addition to the Memphis City Council. They shared their thoughts and concerns about major issues such as Memphis policing, finances, and outmigration; and the role of metrics in measuring performance of city government functions. They both answered these questions:

  1.  What do you understand to be the job description of a Memphis City Council member?
  2.  How will your constituents hold you accountable?
dan springer

Dan Springer

Dan Springer believes he is supposed to be a team player, finding a way to help build consensus instead of contributing to discord. Worth Morgan defines his desired Council office as representing the interests of his constituents while also doing his best to seek the common good for all Memphians. Both are committed to holding  frequent townhall meetings in  District  5 to provide information about pending Council decisions and hear constituents’ concerns.

We at  Back in River City are excited to see two such intelligent and capable young men

Worth Morgan

Worth Morgan

interested in serving Memphis. Both are worthy of your support. We have a slim preference for  Dan Springer only because he has more years of hands-on government service experience from previous stints working with Senator Bob Corker and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell. We expect good things in the political futures of both candidates.

District Seven

anthony anderson

Anthony Anderson

berlin boyd

Berlin Boyd

The District 7 runoff pits  Anthony Anderson (24.1% in the general election) against incumbent Berlin Boyd (26.5%). Back in River City endorsed Mr. Anderson in the general election and we continue to favor him over Mr. Boyd. Mr. Anderson is CEO of Frayser charter school The Memphis Business Academy. He has been actively involved in Frayser civic affairs since 1995. Mr. Boyd was appointed to his current Council seat in 2014, filling the vacancy left by Tennessee Senator Lee Harris. Earlier, he served for 11 months as the replacement for District 7 Council member  Barbara Swearengen Ware, who was indicted on a charge of official misconduct. In our opinion, Mr. Boyd’s  vocational interests – principal of government relations firm Boyd and Associates and commercial real estate agent – are in conflict with exercising independent judgment in a City Council role.


Source of voting statistics:

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