MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — All eyes will be on the Shelby County Commission Wednesday as it decides whether expelled State Representative Justin J. Pearson will be appointed to fill his own vacant seat.
Shelby County Commission Chairman Mickell Lowery will preside over Wednesday’s special called meeting.
“It’s become a big deal because the nation is watching. And the state made it a big deal when they took the actions they took,” Lowery said.
Lowery has been flooded with questions on what the Commission plans when it comes to filling the seat vacated by expelled Tennessee Representative Justin J. Pearson. Tuesday, the Metro Council in Nashville reinstated Rep. Justin Jones, who was also expelled from the House.
Lowery said many want Pearson back.
“I’m bringing the resolution with his name on it. I’m sponsoring that resolution so I am going to vote to put Justin Pearson back in his seat to represent District 86,” he said.
It will take seven votes to put Pearson back in the seat temporarily. With two of the thirteen County Commissioners out of the country, Lowery said he expects at least nine to be at the meeting.
“My goal was to make sure that we had a quorum. I feel pretty confident about it. I wouldn’t call the meeting if I didn’t think we’d be confident in being able to appoint Justin Pearson,” Lowery said.
Pearson told WREG he will be at the meeting.
“I am hopeful the County Commission will restore representation and say the anti-Democratic behavior of the State Legislature will not be accepted, will not be tolerated, and also that our communities will not be bought,” he said.
There are concerns the state could pull funding for some local projects if the Commission appoints Pearson.
“Mayor Strickland indicated that there was pushback, he was getting pushback, If we reinstate Pearson that there might be some funding withdraws such as the 350 million dollars promised for FedExForum,” said Commissioner Erika Sugarmon.
Lowery said no one directly responsible for directing funding has said that directly to him but people are nervous about what will happen.
“People are concerned. We’ve seen a history of this in the past when the statues were removed. I think there was some ramifications there that were perceived. And so people are just nervous,” he said.
“That type of retribution, that type of retaliation is a part of the culture, the toxicity that lives within these halls of Capitol Hill,” Pearson said.
A crowd is expected at the County Commission special called meeting, especially because of what will happen at the National Civil Rights Museum shortly before the meeting. Pearson’s supporters will gather and march from this end of downtown to where the meeting is being held.
“There is a rally and march being organized as well to show that people are behind this movement to end gun violence,” Pearson said.
It’s why Pearson said he won’t let up.
“If I have the opportunity to continue to serve, I will promise what I promised when I ran for this office that I will give all I can to advocate for justice,” Pearson said.
We asked Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s office about the claims the state has threatened to pull some local funding if Justin Pearson is appointed. They would only say the mayor is in Nashville right now.