The Tennessee Comptroller said Friday that the office would not seek to take over the office of the Shelby County Clerk from Wanda Halbert because there is no legal authority or precedent that would allow such a move.
Comptroller Jason Mumpower said in a statement that the mayor and county commission should consider possible avenues to potentially oust Halbert and decide whether it’s time to use the options available to remove her.
“I certainly share the frustration of citizens, businesses and the many elected officials who have spoken out or been affected by the Clerk’s inability to do the job,” Mumpower said.
“The Shelby County Clerk needs to work harder to serve his clients. I certainly share the frustration of citizens, businesses and the many elected officials who have spoken out or been affected by the Clerk’s inability to do the job,” Mumpower said. “The clerk was elected to do the job.
Halbert, who has not spoken publicly or posted online since Mumpower’s initial statement, could not be reached for comment.
Halbert became a lightning rod, after announcing that the clerk’s office would close this week to work on a backlog of car dealer packs, then traveled to Jamaica.
There are over 8,500 dealer inquiries from new car dealerships sitting in the clerk’s desk that have yet to be processed. If you add in used cars, that could go up to 10,000 or more – and that still doesn’t include occasional sales, like between friends.
Mumpower called Halbert on Monday about the trip to Jamaica, saying it showed “a lack of leadership and concern for his staff who have to deal with the backlog without him being in the office.”
The clerk had previously announced that her offices would be closed from August 22-26 and September 19-23 for staff to work through the backlog of car dealer packs.
Earlier this month, the Shelby County Commission voted to ask the State of Tennessee to temporarily take over the administrative function of distributing license plates in the county.
Outgoing Shelby County Commissioner Mark Billingsley, whose term ends when new commissioners are sworn in Aug. 31, is studying methods of removing a Shelby County elected official.
And, on Monday, Commissioner Mick Wright said Halbert should consider stepping down.
“If Wanda Halbert cannot or will not do the required work of the County Clerk’s Office and treat the needs of our citizens as a priority, she should resign and let someone else run this office,” said Wright in a statement.
County officials cannot be recalled for the first and last 180 days of their term. They can be recalled if county voters circulate a petition to recall the official signed by at least 15% of registered voters eligible to vote for that office, triggering a recall vote.
State law gives local officials the ability to pursue an eviction, and it may be time for them to consider whether or not it is appropriate.
Halbert won re-election in the August 4 election with 49% of the vote, compared to 41% for Jeff Jacobs and 10% for Harold Smith, according to unofficial totals.
Our office understands the desire for state intervention, but, after extensive research, we have determined that there is no statutory authority or precedent that would allow the State of Tennessee to take over operational duties. from the clerk’s office. The clerk was elected to do the job.
This is a local matter, and I believe the Mayor and County Commission should continue to explore what legal remedies may be available to help better serve Shelby Counties. State law gives local officials the ability to pursue an eviction, and it may be time for them to consider whether or not it is appropriate. Tennessee Treasury Comptroller Jason Mumpower