May 24, 2024 7:00am

Poll members: Oust Wanda Halbert from office

Power Poll members have little or no confidence in the embattled Shelby County Court Clerk

Photo of David Waters
Memphis, TN Correspondent

Wanda Halbert, whose tumultuous and tenuous tenure as Shelby County Clerk is now in the hands of a judge, will find little support among Memphis Power Poll members.

More than 9 in 10 respondents expressed little or no confidence in Halbert.

More than 8 in 10 respondents say Halbert should be removed from office.

However, barely 4 in 10 respondents predict that Halbert will be ousted from the office to which she was elected in 2018 and re-elected in 2022.

The State of Tennessee has filed a court petition to remove Halbert from office. A Circuit Court hearing on the matter is scheduled for May 31.

The petition accuses Halbert of "willful neglect" of her duties, including "inaccurate, untimely, and untrustworthy financial reportings" since she was re-elected in 2022.

Halbert, a former school board and City Council member, has denied the charges and asked the court to dismiss the petition. Halbert says the county has not given her office the financial and technical support it needs to fulfill its duties.

But County Mayor Lee Harris has called Halbert’s claims erroneous. “Over the last four years the Clerk has had more resources than she could spend,” Harris said in a statement. “Financial reports show the Clerk’s Office didn’t spend $855,245 in 2020, $928,159 in 2021, $1,445,183 in 2022, and $2,288,653 in 2023 totaling just over $5.5 million.”

Halbert, who said she will not resign, also claimed that her repeated pleas for a forensic audit of her office have been denied. But The Commercial Appeal reported that a forensic audit was completed more than a year after Halbert was elected.

In a column published this week in the Daily Memphian, longtime local journalist and political observer Otis Sanford summed up the feelings of many of his fellow Power Poll members.

"Halbert’s skills as an administrator and a leader are all smoke and mirrors," Sanford wrote. "And frankly, she has run out of excuses for the problems plaguing the clerk’s office."

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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