Item No. 21 on the Shelby County Commission today reads as follows: Resolution electing an Interim County Mayor for Shelby County. Sponsored by Commissioner Mike Ritz. It's not exactly direct democracy, but the county charter does call for the commission to select an interim replacement in the event the office of county mayor is vacated by the person put there in an election. When the vote begins, we will be live-blogging and live-Tweeting (@zackmcm).
Follow what others are saying on Twitter on The Commercial Appeal's commission vote page.
What we know is that acting mayor Joyce Avery has decided to make herself a candidate, joining three other commissioners, Republican George Flinn and Democrats J.W. Gibson and Joe Ford; and, former Collierville mayor Linda Kerley. Headed into the meeting, Ford had secured four commitments, with Democratic colleagues Matt Kuhn and Sidney Chism joining Republicans Mike Ritz and Wyatt Bunker.
Interestingly, Ritz and Bunker each say they support Ford because he is the only Democrat they can stomach supporting, and prefer to play a role in electing the next mayor rather than going with Republican candidates they believe do not have a chance of securing seven votes.
Gibson had two public commitments, from Republican Mike Carpenter (who sits next to him) and James Harvey. But Harvey did say last week that if it became apparent Gibson could not get to seven votes, he could be persuaded to switch to Ford to break the logjam.
On Sunday night, Flinn described the situation as "absolute chaos" and joined several commissioners in predicting that the vote would come to a stalemate and be postponed. There has been intense private lobbying. Commissioner Steve Mulroy's comment that "everybody and their brother -- actually, everybody and their sister" is open to interpretation, given Joe Ford's brother is former Congressman Harold Ford Sr., his nephew is Harold Ford Jr. and his sister is Ophelia Ford, who Mulroy provided with his professional expertise in election law.
As of 2:20 p.m., the Commission had gotten to item No. 18 on the agenda. The Commission spent about a half hour discussing whether to approve minutes from a previous special meeting in which it approved a controversial program from Buehler Homes. Commissioner Henri Brooks won her wish to postpone approval of the minutes until technical wording in the minutes was changed.