Tuesday, September 15, 2015

After a Month's Delay, the County Commission Has a New Chair — Terry Roland

The Millington Republican turns the tables on runner-up Steve Basar, the apparent winner a month ago but the casualty of a "reconsideration" vote.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 8:09 AM

click to enlarge New Commission chairman Terry Roland - JB
  • JB
  • New Commission chairman Terry Roland

Slightly more than a month after its first try, the Shelby County Commission finally was able on Monday to elect a new chairman, Millington Republican Terry Roland. There's a backstory.

The Commission’s original vote for chairman was held a month ago — on Monday, August 10, when East Memphis Republican member Steve Basar won election by a single vote.

Then, in a bizarre turnabout, one hour after the election, Memphis Democrat Eddie Jones, who had abstained for most of the ballot rounds that day before casting what had turned out to be the decisive vote for Basar, unexpectedly asked for a reconsideration — i.e., a re-vote on the matter.

Parliamentary protocol allows for such a reconsideration if the person seeking it was a member of the prevailing side on the original vote, and Jones, who had in the meantime had several sotto voce conversations with defeated second-place contender Roland, who had seemingly been eliminated, qualified.

After a vote which narrowly approved reconsideration, another vote was held, in which — thanks largely to a spoiler candidacy by Collierville Republican George Chism — neither the now dis-elected Basar nor Roland could prevail, and a new election was called. It was set for this week to accommodate Jones, who said he would be unable to attend the intervening Commission meeting on August 14.

Came Monday, and the new election was the first order of business after the commission’s approval of a consent agenda. With interim chair Van Turner presiding (outgoing chair Justin Ford’s term having formally terminated), new nominations for chairman were called for, and the same three candidates as before — Basar, Roland, and Chism — were put in nomination.

Tellingly, Roland was nominated this time by Jones. In the end, after two ballots, Roland won election on the basis of five Republican votes, including his own, and those of two Democrats, Jones and Ford.

As a preamble to Monday’s rescheduled chairmanship election, several citizens, representing Democratic, Republican, and perhaps independent constituencies as well, had appeared before the Commission challenging its members to cast their votes on some basis other than deal-making.

Whatever degree of public cynicism that may have represented, victor Roland, whose election was a springboard of sorts for the County Mayor’s race he intends to run in 2018, sought to be reassuring. Before the vote, he promised “from my heart” that, if elected, he would “break my neck” on behalf of his colleagues of all persuasions. After the vote, he professed to be humbled.

Basar — who, besides his two recent setbacks, had suffered an unanticipated loss to Ford in last year’s chairmanship vote — was sounding philosophical even before Monday’s vote was taken. “Déjà vu all over again,” he said.

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