Memphis got a new interim City Council member Friday morning, as the Council, meeting in special session, selected local businessman Berlin Boyd from among 12 applicants to succeed retired District 7 Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware.
Boyd won out on the third ballot by a vote of 7-5 over runner-up Novella Smith Arnold, a well-known local activist, after the field had been narrowed to those two. Previous to the voting, the applicants had taken turns answering questions about their views and background from Council members.
Although no formal policy had been established barring candidates for the District 7 seat on the October ballot from the interim appointment, it was clear that a majority of the Council preferred to appoint someone who was not seeking election to the post.
Talking with the press over his selection, Boyd said job creation and crime would be primary concerns of his, and he said he would pay special attention to the needs of downtown, much of which lies in District 7.
There remain 14 candidates who qualified for the October ballot and hope to succeed Boyd. The District 7 race, in all probability, will be one of the few that will be fully competitive, in that Council incumbents, all of whom filed for reelection, will be heavily favored in the other 12 districts.
Four Council incumbents — Harold Collins in District 3, Jim Strickland in District 5, Myron Lowery in Super District 8, Position 3, and Reid Hedgepeth Super District 9, Position 3 — are unopposed.
Mayor A C Wharton drew 9 opponents, of whom three — Shelby County Commissioner James Harvey, former City Council member Edmund Ford Sr., and former Shelby County Commissioner John Willingham — have previous political and governmental experience.
Withdrawal deadline for city positions is Thursday, July 28.