July 22, 2022 7:00am

Term limits, non-partisan elections, and campaign signs for all

Power Poll Memphis members weigh in on issues on the long and winding Aug. 4 ballot

Photo of David Waters
Memphis, TN Correspondent

The votes have been cast. The results are in. Power Poll Memphis members have spoken.

The winners are two-term limits for Memphis mayor and council, non-partisan local elections, and campaign yard signs for all.

Meanwhile, Mayor Jim Strickland's self-described Aug. 4 referendum on his political future lost by a razor-thin margin.

All are issues related to Shelby County's Aug. 4 general election. The massive ballot featuring more than 7,700 candidates includes a referendum for Memphis voters only.

The referendum asks city voters if they want to extend the number of consecutive four-year terms for mayor and council from two to three.

Two-term limits were approved by 75 percent of Memphis voters in 2008. They were reaffirmed by 60 percent of Memphis voters in a 2018 referendum.

Current members of the Memphis City Council are trying again Aug. 4. If voters approve, the mayor and all current council members would be eligible to run for a third consecutive term.

In the July Power Poll, 69 percent of members rejected a third-term option. Only 26 percent said the idea makes sense. Four percent don't believe in term limits.

Meanwhile, Memphis Mayor Strickland announced earlier this month that he will seek re-election next year to a third term if Memphis voters extend term limits.

Slightly more than half (51 percent) of Memphis Power Poll voters said Strickland's announcement had no impact on their view of extended term limits.

Thirty-two percent said a Strickland re-election campaign makes them more likely to support a term-limit extension. Sixteen percent said it makes them less likely.

City council considered but eventually decided not to ask voters to allow local Democratic and Republican parties to hold partisan primaries for Memphis mayor and city council.

Currently, Memphis city elections are non-partisan elections. Shelby County elections are partisan, except for judges and school board members.

Power Poll members clearly prefer non-partisan elections. In fact, 65 percent of members said both city and county elections should be non-partisan.

Twenty percent of members think party primaries should be used to choose both city and county candidates. Only six percent like the current split.

Power Poll members were more evenly divided about campaign yard signs, which spread like kudzu during city and county elections.

Forty-three percent of members say the colorful and plentiful signs are useful and should be celebrated. Twenty-seven percent said they should be banned.

Fifteen percent said they've never thought about it.

Now they have.

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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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