May 19, 2023 7:00am

Power Poll members support residency requirement for Memphis mayor

Nearly two-thirds of poll respondents believe this year's candidates should live in Memphis five years

Photo of David Waters
Memphis, TN Correspondent

Power Poll Memphis members believe strongly that this year's candidates for mayor of Memphis should have been residents of Memphis for at least five years. They also strongly favor a new two-year residency requirement for future candidates.

Those views are in contrast to a judge's ruling late Thursday that the city charter's five-year residency requirement was effectively removed by a related 1996 referendum. Chancellor JoeDae Jenkins's ruling could impact the Oct. 5 election.

Two of the leading candidates for mayor. Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner and local NAACP President Van Turner, did not meet the five-year residency requirement. They filed a lawsuit against the city. Jenkins' ruling will allow both candidates to run for mayor.

A new poll of 600 registered voters shows that Turner and Bonner are the two leading candidates for mayor with 16% and 15% respectively, according to The Daily Memphian. Former Mayor Willie Herenton received 14% of the support, and Downtown Commission Chairman Paul Young 12%.

Current Mayor Jim Strickland and City Council Attorney Allen Wade joined the legal fray.

Sixty-three percent of members who responded to May's Power Poll agree with Strickland that the city's charter clearly has as a five-year residency requirement for mayoral candidates.

Only 13 of members who responded to May's Power Poll agree with Wade, who argued that that the residency requirement no longer applies.

Sixty-three percent of respondents also say the questionable and short-term Memphis residencies of Bonner and Turner makes them less likely to support either candidate. Another 30 percent say residency makes no difference in their support.

On a related matter, 63 percent of respondents say they plan to vote in favor of a 2024 referendum to approve a new two-year residency requirement for mayor and council.

Another 31 percent say they prefer the five-year requirement.

Only 4 percent of respondents think there should be no residency requirement at all.

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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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