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Saturday, May 6, 2006

Brooks to exit House post

Legislator seeks County Commission seat


The Commercial Appeal, May 6, 2006
By Richard Locker

NASHVILLE - State Rep. Henri Brooks, who won the Democratic nomination to a Shelby County Commission seat, said she will leave her state House post at the end of her term in November.

State law apparently does not prohibit members from serving on both county and state legislative bodies but she said she will not attempt to hold both seats.

Brooks won the Democratic nomination Tuesday for the County Commission's District 2, Position 2 seat. She faces Republican Novella Smith Arnold in the Aug. 3 county general election but the South Memphis district is heavily Democratic.

Because the qualifying deadline for both offices was at the same time, Brooks filed as a candidate for re-election to the state House District 92 seat she's held since 1992, as well as the commission seat. The withdrawal deadline was weeks before the commission primary so her name remains on the Aug. 3 Democratic primary ballot for the legislature but she said she will not campaign for it and will end her term when it expires with the Nov. 7 general election.

"I do not plan to hold two seats. I did not want to be presumptuous about winning the County Commission seat so I had to file for both. No, I will not be serving in the legislature beyond November when my term expires. I'm going to serve out my term there.''

If she wins the county seat, she'll trade a $16,500 legislator's salary for the commission's $30,600 a year. State legislators also receive a $1,000 per month home office allowance and a $150 per day expense allowance when present for House sessions in Nashville. But she will not have to make the weekly 420-mile round trip to the capital that takes lawmakers away from home Mondays through Thursdays from January through May and sometimes longer.

Brooks, 57, is in her seventh two-year term. She has been an advocate of inner-city economic redevelopment and of ensuring compliance with federal law banning discrimination in governmental funding and programs.

She sponsored a bill that required state troopers to record the race of motorists they stop, for a study of possible racial profiling.

After a 20-vote loss to Ophelia Ford in the 2005 Democratic primary for the Senate District 29 seat - and the subsequent rejection of Brooks' contest of the election by the Democratic Executive Committee - she sponsored a bill this year requiring automatic recounts if the margin between the top two candidates is within one-half of 1 percent of all votes cast. She also has a bill requiring notification of voters moved from one district to another by redistricting.

Two other Democrats are on the ballot for her state House seat: Elbert Rich Jr. and Michael Saine. No Republican or independent qualified.

State Election Coordinator Brook Thompson said Friday that Brooks' name cannot be removed from the Aug. 3 primary ballot. If she were to win the nomination based on name recognition, she could withdraw before the Nov. 7 general election and other candidates could launch a write-in campaign. State laws that allow her party to name a new nominee if she withdraws apply in limited circumstances that don't appear to apply in Brooks' case.

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Edition: Final; Section: Metro; Page: B9
Copyright (c) 2006 The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN

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