It's For Real This Time: Avery Is an Active Candidate for Interim County Mayor on Monday



Joyce Avery: Im going for it.
  • JB
  • Acting county mayor Joyce Avery: "I'm going for it."
Acting Shelby County Mayor Joyce Avery, who admits to thinking it was “disrespectful” for fellow commissioner — and fellow Republican — Mike Ritz to have moved for an early decision by the commission on a fulltime interim mayor, now intends, after a period of indecision, to have her name put in nomination for the job on Monday.

And she says her name will be placed in nomination by another GOP colleague, George Flinn, who had previously indicated that he himself would be an active candidate for interim mayor — a position that will be held by somebody until the election of a permanent mayor in the regular countywide election cycle next August.

As for Flinn’s own ambitions, they would apparently be shelved — at least until the late rounds of what could be extended balloting by commission members on Monday.

“He said he’ll see how it goes,” Avery said on Sunday, taking a break from a reception in her honor at her Arlington home. In any case, “George is going to nominate me. And he has never said anything to me that he hasn’t followed through on.”

Avery had told the Flyer last week that she would be a candidate for interim mayor but later amended that to say that she would only be available as a fallback possibility in case of a deadlock between other candidates. That reticence is over with now.

”I’ve really been praying about this,” Avery said on Sunday. “I’ve had so much feedback, from both Republicans and Democrats who have encouraged me to seek the office. I’m going for it tomorrow.” She noted that she was “the first sitting county commissioner to be invited on The Med board” and said that primary goal would be to “really push funding for The Med.”

Avery, who had been serving as the current commission chair, is currently eligible to be acting mayor for up to 45 days from the date of her temporary accession on Monday, October 26, the day A C Wharton resigned as county mayor to take over the job of city mayor that he was elected to last month.

That means she could have easily served as acting mayor until the second week of December before an interim mayor had to be named according to the terms of the county charter.

Avery doesn’t pretend to understand the reasons for a rush to name someone earlier. “I had barely sat in my chair for an hour before Ritz brought forth a resolution,” she says.

But, while considering the rush to judgment “disrespectful,” she says she asked both Ritz and another GOP commissioner, Wyatt Bunker, for their support in case the candidate both are supporting at this point, Democratic commissioner Joe Ford, doesn’t make it.

With Flinn’s apparent withdrawal from the nominating process (though not necessarily from late-ballot consideration), the likely active nominees on Monday are Ford, fellow Democratic commissioner J.W. Gibson, former Collierville mayor Linda Kerley, and now Avery.

Flinn’s change of status would also change the numbers from a partisan point of view. Active nominees on the commission are precluded from voting, as is Avery as acting mayor. On a body now constituted, at full strength, of eight Democrats and five Republican, that means six Democrats and four Republicans will be eligible to vote.

If Flinn should be nominated, the numbers of those eligible would be six Democrats and three Republicans. Flinn’s participation in the voting could be considerable indeed.

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