County Commission votes to approve Dr. Taylor as new head of health department

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Commission voted Monday to confirm Dr. Michelle Taylor as the next director of the Shelby County Health Department.

The commissioners voted 13-0 to approve.

This decision came after some controversy last week.

Dr. Taylor was Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris’ nominee to lead the Shelby County Health Services Division.

RELATED: Shelby County mayor nominates new director for Shelby County Health Department

On Wednesday, the mayor’s nomination came under fire as FOX13 obtained an official internal memo that showed an Interview Panel for the Director of the Shelby County Health Services Division did not recommend either Dr. Michelle Taylor or Mr. Derrick Neal for the position.

In May, the panel said Dr. Taylor is very articulate and highly credentialed, but she lacks experience leading an organization the size of the Shelby County Health Department.

RELATED: Panel did not recommend appointment of Dr. Taylor as SCHD head, memo says

“I’ll let my experience and credentials speak for themselves,” Dr. Taylor said. “What happened at the interview panel, they have to put their opinions out there. That’s what an interview panel is for, to show your strengths and weaknesses.”

On Friday, Commissioner Mark Billingsley said he planned to vote no because Mayor Harris wasn’t transparent about results from the interview panel.

However, on Monday night, he said he is putting politics aside and supporting Dr. Taylor.

“I want to personally apologize to you for any heartache you’ve had over the last week or so,” said Billingsley.

“We have a huge job to do in fighting this pandemic, we won’t fight each other, but we will fight this pandemic, and I’m hopeful with your leadership, we will overcome.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Taylor said she is ready to get to work.

She received an overwhelming amount of support from sorority sisters, city leaders, and county commissioners.

“This is the community that nurtured me. I never had a doubt I would have this type of support,” said Dr. Taylor.

Dr. Taylor is a native Memphian who used to work at the Health Department and a woman with multiple degrees from Harvard and Johns Hopkins.

Right now, her goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

“Public health practice is so important to our communities. It’s everything,” said Dr. Taylor.

“It’s why we are able to go safely about our daily lives work, play, and pray. Do everything we need to do as families and communities to stay safe,” said Dr. Taylor.

FOX13 talked to Mayor Harris after the confirmation.

He said all the controversy with Commissioner Billingsley is water under the bridge, and he looks forward to working with Dr. Taylor.

Again, she will officially start her job on Monday.