16 Jan 2014
- Written by Carlissa Shaw, Esq./Special to The New Tri-State Defender
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Seventeen months after newcomer Kevin Woods defeated the Rev. Kenneth T. Whalum Jr. for the Shelby County School Board District 4 position, and five months after a new election was ordered, uncertainty still rules.
On Aug. 2, 2012, Woods was declared the winner by 106 votes. Whalum, the incumbent, wasted no time filing a complaint to contest the election results. He named the Shelby County Election Commission and other parties. His Aug. 22, 2012 complaint alleged that the election was "fraught with error as thousands of voters were disenfranchised".
Whalum and his attorney contend that there is only one solution and that is to "discard the election results and hold a vote." On Aug. 13, 2013, Chancellor Kenny Armstrong reached a decision.
"The mistakes were honest mistakes and not intentional," Armstrong opined. Still, he ordered a new election, citing the irregularities as "incurably uncertain."
The Election Commission then appealed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The case is currently under review and should be heard in this judicial cycle.
While both sides await the decision of the Court of Appeals, Whalum is not pleased with the action being taken by the Election Commission to assure that the same irregularities do not occur again.
"The exact same people are in leadership, and the will of the voters in Memphis and Shelby County have not been honored and continue to not be honored by the very election commission that is supposed to protect their rights," said Whalum.
Meanwhile, Woods has become chairman of the Shelby County School board. Asked about his thoughts on the pending litigation, Woods said, "As Chairman of the Shelby County School Board I am focused on the work at hand and will leave the legal work to the attorneys."
The Election Commission maintains that the irregularities in the District 4 election were not enough to warrant a new election.
"In 2013 the election commission handled 13 different elections involving 7 different municipalities without any systematic problems," said Chairman Robert Myers. He attributes that to better control of data through the use of technology.