Though most local attention, understandably, is on the pending vote Monday night by the Memphis School Board on whether to call for a referendum on surrendering the Memphis City Schools charter, another decision will be made of some consequence in government circles.
The Shelby County Commission will decide between five applicants for an interim appointment to the state House of Representatives seat that became vacant with the death in November of longtime state representative Ulysses Jones.
The applicants, all of whom were interviewed by the commission on Wednesday, are: Antonio Parkinson, a firefighter and prominent activist in the North Memphis/Frayer/Raleigh area; Sandra Richards, a battalion chief in the Memphis Fire Department and the surviving fiancée of Jones, who was also a Fire Department battalion chief; Stephanie Gatewood, a member of the Memphis School Board; Brenda Oats-Williams, an attorney; and Nicholas Pegues, a University of Memphis student.
All but Pegues, a Republican, are Democrats. All but Pegues and Richards intend to run in a special election to hold the seat on a permanent basis. Primary date for candidates is January 20, with the general election on March 8.
Also planning to run in the special election is Jannie C. Foster, who was not among those interviewed on Wednesday.
According to commission sources, those with the best chance to gain the interim appointment are Parkinson, Richards, and Gatewood — all of whom have support among the commissioners.